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ITU predicts 25 billion networked devices by 2020

24 Sep 2012
Tunnel of numbered data

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has predicted there will be as staggering 25 billion devices online by 2020 as the internet of things revolution takes off.

The organisation, a department within the United Nations (UN) responsible for promoting and developing the deployment of telecoms infrastructures, said the growth of technologies like machine-to-machine (M2M) communications would be the primary driver of this growth.

"By 2020, the number of connected devices may potentially outnumber connected people by six to one, transforming our concept of the internet, and society, forever," it said in its annual The State of Broadband report.

As well as 25 billion devices, the report also predicts there will be some ten billion mobile broadband connections as the developing world use smartphones and tablets as their primary means of internet connection.

Interestingly, the ITU said that while this growth of mobile devices could be the key to closing the digital divide it could generate new issues of exclusion based on content and capabilities.

"Given the prolific spread of mobile, in the future, the digital divide may no longer describe disparities in access, but instead denote disparities in speed and functionality - or more specifically, what people can do with their mobile devices," it said.

"Indeed, the handset may become relatively less important, as more and more people will use their mobile device as a portal to the content and apps available in the online world."

The findings of the report, which also noted a growing rise in subscriptions to services and access in developing countries was welcomed by ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré.

"Broadband networks and services are transforming our way of life. The Broadband Commission is committed to ensuring that the benefits of broadband are available to all," he said.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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