The world now has nearly as many mobile phone subscriptions as inhabitants.
There were about six billion subscriptions by the end of 2011 – roughly one for 86 out of every 100 people, the UN telecom agency says.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said China alone accounted for one billion subscriptions, and India is expected to hit the one-billion mark this year.
The Geneva-based agency said 2.3 billion people – or about one in three of the world's seven billion inhabitants – were Internet users by the end of 2011, but there is a strong disparity between rich and developing countries.
The ITU said 70 per cent of people who use the Internet live in wealthier, industrialised countries, compared with 24 per cent who live in poorer, developing nations.