3.3 Billion Cell Phones and Counting


cell phone

There will be one cell phone for every two people on Earth, as of some time today.

Somewhere on the planet today someone will skip over pages of fine print they will later regret not reading—and thumb their nose at the risk of a phone exploding—in order to sign a mobile services contract that will bring the worldwide number of such accounts to 3.3 billion, a figure roughly equal to half the Earth's population.

This doesn't mean that half of the people on the planet actually own a phone. In 59 countries there are more accounts than people. But only 10 percent of the world's population remains without cell coverage.

Read about the need for an American cell phone liberation front here.

Read about the FCC's secret cell phone map here.

Or just call your mother.

Via Fark

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  1. My brother was telling me about getting off the plane in Accra, Ghana. He said it took all of 3 minutes for the phone to sync with the local network.

  2. Cellular infrastructer is far cheaper to build that wire infrastructure. Many developing countries are skipping the whole land-line development.

  3. Who’d a thunk it 20 years ago? If one of the futurologists, who regularly get their predictions in print, foresaw this in 1987 or earlier, I’d love to see the evidence. Then I’d like to shake their hand.

  4. J sub D, around 1987 when I had been in college way too long, we were discussing the rise of cell phones in a class about the “third world” and “appropriate technology.” Being something of a luddite, I had no interest in getting one myself, but it was suddenly very clear to me what a great technology it was for the parts of the world where it’s ridiculously expensive and difficult to run phone cable to every little village.

    So someone was thinking about it then. Don’t know about the futurologists, though.

  5. only 10 percent of the world’s population remains without cell coverage.

    The lucky few.

  6. I don’t have a cell phone. I like being out of touch on occasion.

  7. Caption Contest!

    “Call me now for your free reading!”

  8. never before have so many talked for so long about so little.

  9. I think I heard something a while ago about the fact that 1/5 of the world’s population has internet access. Does anyone have the full story?

  10. The same economics that make cell technology superior to running phone lines, applies to cable vs. satellite television as well. If Comcast has a lick of sense …

  11. Of course, when information, energy, and all forms of matter can be beamed to me, I may be open to new technologies.

  12. I live in a semi-rural location, not three miles from the closest town with cable. But I have Dish, because no one will ever run a line out to our development with under 20 homes.

  13. Caption Contest!

    Hello, Avis Rent-A-Goat? Yeah, you got anything with four-hoof drive?

  14. Now, if we could just get people those $100 $200 laptops, the world will truly be a better place.

  15. I don’t have a cell phone. I like being out of touch on occasion.

    Pro L, I know a guy with a cell phone, and he’s never in touch. No one forces you to answer the thing, let alone turn it on when you don’t want to talk. You can always use it as an ‘outgoing only’ device.

  16. I don’t have a cell phone. I like being out of touch on occasion.

    I was talked out of that attitude here. I now have a cheap prepaid throwaway cell phone in the glove box. I’ve yet to use it.

    Danke sch?n, Warren. No, that’s not sarcasm. Really, thanks.

  17. Caption Contest!

    Hello, Domino’s? I’d like a large Meat-Lovers with extra catepillars.

  18. Caption Contest:

    “And in Delhi you can have this affordable time share…”

  19. Caption contest

    My uncle will gladly pay you 15% of the $20 million once you have deposited the $65,000 security funds in account XXXXXXX XXX XXXX in the United Crooks Bank in Geneva.

  20. “Read about the need for an American cell phone liberation front here.”

    I believe that Verizon is already liberating American Cell phones. They recently announced that they would publish specs for their network and allow anyone to make a device or application that would work with it. They will test them for compatibility though.

  21. Caption contest

    And just what applications were you running prior to getting the blue screen of death?



  23. Caption contest

    “Yeah, Mtumba? I just met this anthropology major from Berkeley and he actually thinks this shithole is quaint.”

  24. J sub D;
    Jesus fucking Christ, was that funny.

  25. Wow, thanks for playing guys. That was gold.

  26. Caption contest:

    Why yes, I am Mr. Moses Odiaka, and I do need you to give me your account number so that I can deposit U.S. $18.5 million for complicated reasons relating to our quaint political system.

  27. I’m with J sub D-I have a prepaid cell phone in my glove box and have basically used it twice since I got it a few months ago. A few years back, I had one but never used it and was sick of paying twenty bucks a month for something I never used. I kept looking for a prepaid phone that the minutes wouldn’t expire in 60 or 90 days (if they expire that quickly, it’s basically the same as a standard month to month plan), and I finally found one-Seven Eleven Speak Out Wireless. Thier minutes don’t expire for 365 days-perfect for a glovebox emergency phone. I managed to get one when they had a deal where you bought a $50 phone card and the phone was free.

  28. Katherine has been reading Mrs TWC’s mind. 🙂

    Where do poor Africans get all those cool colors? Doesn’t it take serious technology to do that?

    Pro Lib wins the thread.

    I have a cell phone but only 8 people have the number. I like being out of touch sometimes too. I also have never had a pager and will never ever own one. Although, I suppose that technology is obsolete anyway.

  29. Carrick, I am in the same boat, er, sticks. I have a crappy internet provider, whom I curse many times daily, but when it works its much faster than dish and additional users on the system don’t slow it down. My ISP is so bad that we have ongoing dial-up as a backup.

    Question: how well does dish actually work and what kind of download speeds do you get and do additional users slow the speeds? Thanks. I would love to dump my ISP.

    BTW, answered your question about Georgian wine on that other thread. Didja see it?

  30. Twenty years ago I had an offer to be employee number…well, I forget the number, but it was under 200 at Qualcomm. Of course, I turned it down because this cell phone thing wasn’t ever going to take off.

    In my defense, this was back when the phones were larger than a football and had no battery life.

  31. Even North Korea allowed cell phones for a year or two earlier this decade. It was revoked though because Kim Il Douchebag thought it was dangerous to have “status symbols”.

  32. Question: how well does dish actually work and what kind of download speeds do you get and do additional users slow the speeds? Thanks. I would love to dump my ISP.

    TWC, on the off hand that you are still hanging around:

    I have dish for television. I looked into the satellite ISP, but chose not to use it. I had actually signed up for it, but the local dealer/installer wasted a bunch of time, so I dumped him for another service.

    Both Dish Network TV and the ISP use the Echostar satellite network (DirecTV is the Hughes network) — 2 1/2 year old memories. The Dish/Echostar solution uses satellite for both uplink and downlink, whereas the DirectPC required telephone as a back channel (uplink).

    The single biggest problem was you couldn’t buy the ISP service directly from DISH (at that time anyway). The Satellite ISP services wants to sell you the hardware plus a monthly services fee. Dish wants to rent you the hardware plus a monthly service fee. So it was technically possible to buy a dual-service antenna from the ISP folks, then just rent the receiver from DISH.

    While I was waiting for the SOB (aka local dealer) that was willing to install the network hardware for the satellite ISP as well as hook me up to dish, I found a small dealer that had a wireless access point on the top of the water tower in the small town three miles away. Great service actually (except if the system went belly up on the weekend, because it was a one-man shop and he wasn’t always available on weekends to provide technical support). It is a shared service (like a cable modem), but there were many times when I got well over 1 mb/s download speeds. He eventually sold out to a bigger company, and they implement a throttling function to limit me to my 400 kb/s contracted rate. If I hadn’t found this service, I would have eventually gone with the Dish/Satellite ISP service.

  33. I finally found one-Seven Eleven Speak Out Wireless

    I’m looking for something like that, too. I currently have a pre-paid but the money expires eventually and I have a feeling I’ll lose it.

    It was revoked though because Kim Il Douchebag thought it was dangerous to have “status symbols”.

    Amazingly, that’s better than the *real* reason: to keep his flock ignorant of the outside world.

  34. Thanks Carrick, I really appreciate the insight.

    The system we have is wireless but hooked to satellite eventually. It often bumps up as high as 1.2mb but just as often is 80kb or worse. It stutters and limps and goes down but, for the most part I guess it is better than the dial-up we keep as a back up at 31.2. Since we both work at home it is imperative to have Internet access.

  35. Carrick, that experience is worse than ours. Horrifying. Thanks.

  36. Oh, and while I’m baggin’ on stuff. I’ve been putting a Closet Fucking World organizer into the boy’s closet. I could have built the fargin’ thing from scratch faster than it takes to put this “pre-fab” piece of crap together. It is JUNK! Expensive junk. I’m ripping it out and throwing it in the trash. Then, I’ll make something decent from scratch (here that in a Tim Allen voice) that is usable. I swear to god it looks like Rube Goldberg built it. And I’m not lame neither, I know which end of a hammer hits the nails.

  37. Gimme Back My Dog: I haven’t seen you for a while. Once again, great handle. One of my faves.

    I lucked into several clients who profited mightily from Broadcom…..


  39. The real cost advantage of cell over landline is that the corruption tax is a lot lower.

    Africa has waited generations for electrical power, because corrupt/socialist governments squander the funds for power plant construction. But when businesses and homeowners can bypass centralized infrastructure with individual solar panels, the entire Third World will industrialize in a single generation.

    Moreover, it will be almost entirely pollution free.

  40. Caption Contest:

    “Welcome to Moviefone…”

  41. Is it racist to point out that the entire continent of Africa is now informed that our borders are unguarded?

  42. But only 10 percent of the world’s population remains without cell coverage.

    What does this mean? That if 90% of the people in the world bought cell phone, they could use them in their home? I’m not sure what it means to be with or without cell coverage.

  43. 3.3 billion…
    That’s a shitload of annoying ringtones and bad drivers.

  44. What does this mean? That if 90% of the people in the world bought cell phone, they could use them in their home? I’m not sure what it means to be with or without cell coverage.

    You can own a cell phone, but without a carrier to pick up the signal, you’re SOL.

    In other words, there are areas of the planet with no coverage, and about 10% of the world population live there.

  45. ed – I doubt that even half of those cell phone users own cars.

    Can you hear me now?

  46. April, I’m old enough to remember when we were “promised” wristwatch phones…and flying cars.

    The cellphone is nearing the wristwatch stage…but I’d prefer the flying car.

    Neat! I’ll always be part of the 10%. It’s great if people can use cellphones as the tools they are. But fur fark’s sake…why the need to be wired 24/7. I unplug my landline evey chance I get.

    We’ve had a couple of our crewmen staying at the house before the start of the crab season and with one of the kids here as well that’s 4 cell phones (the husabnd has the boat cell here, too). That 4 of those obnoxious, dueling ringtone bastards going off at all hours of the day.

    Shut the hell up!

  47. Caption contest:

    “Yes, this is the Man in Africa With a Right Hand at the End of Each Arm, speaking.”

  48. Caption contest (better entry):

    “Yes, yes, I understand — Mr. Ron Paul is a whacko nutjob whose supporters are all Nazis and loons. Yes, yes. Indeed. Yes. I appreciate your concern. Well, I really have to be going now, Mr. Edward — uh, I have to take another call.”

  49. Caption contest:

    “Can you feed me now?”

  50. I live in a town with out cell service (the locals will not allow towers on the surrounding hills) so count me in with the 10%.

    Happily we have fast-ish wireless internet.

  51. Technology makes everything into the reach of every people. It is a good sign of progressive economy.

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