The number of wireless subscriptions in the world is nearing five billion, according to new figures from iSuppli.
The research firm said that the milestone is likely to be reached this month, and will represent 73.4 per cent of the population.
ISuppli predicts that some 100 million new wireless subscriptions will be registered during the remainder of the year, bringing the total to roughly 5.1 billion subscriptions for devices ranging from low-cost mobile handsets to smartphones.
Western Europe currently records the greatest rate of wireless penetration at 157.6 per cent of the total population. The Middle East and Africa experienced the lowest wireless penetration rates at roughly 50 per cent.
"If the importance of an event can be measured by the number of people it affects, the proliferation of wireless communications stands out as one of the most significant phenomena in the history of technology," said iSuppli senior director and principal analyst Dr Jagdish Rebello.
"Wireless communication has spread to every nation, every age and every income level, becoming a basic staple like food, clothing and shelter."
The growth in wireless adoption has also brought a windfall to hardware and software vendors. The market for mobile hardware components will be worth $60.9bn (£39bn) in 2010, while the market for bundled software will reach $4.4bn (£2.8bn).
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