What Is Attached to Our Global ICT Infrastructure?
How much gear is attached to the edges of our global ICT infrastructure? Our estimate is now approaching 18 billion items, driven by mobile and broadcast devices. The World Bank reported in April 2013 that the western hemisphere has more mobile phones than people. (This is an average number; 30% of Latin America's population lack access to mobile services.) More of the world's population have mobile phones than have toilets!
|Device Type||2013 Estimate
|Cable, Sat & DTV STBs, DVRs||0.8|
|Consumer Broadband ||0.4|
|Personal Music Players||0.4|
|Satellite TV Dishes*||0.2|
 Modems, routers, residential gateways, etc.
 Portable GPS units for driving, boating, backcountry, etc. excluding GPS-equipped smart phones and tablets
Mobile devices - phones, tablets, navigation systems - are the largest segment, now surpassing the glabal population. Mobile phones alone will likely surpass the global population in 2014.
Broadcast devices - radios, televisions, STBs - are the second largest segment at over 4 billion. Broadcast is the original broadband wireless ICT infrastructure. It is still expanding worldwide even as it converts from analog to digital and uses many ICT technologies. Broadcast shares with other forms of ICT the same issues of resource consumption, toxin emissions, and e-waste.
We examine dozens of reports, studies and forecasts from around the world. We evaluate their data and determine how to incorporate it into our edge gear model. Cross-referencing and consistency checks give us confidence in the numbers. The comment below from 2009 illustrates some of the challenges in doing this.
Please make contributions of additional data points, comments, and questions in a comment below.