Indicator 59. Mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by urban/rural

Rationale and definition:

Broadband is a key enabling technology, and access provides economic benefits (access to the formal economy, access to regional and global markets for local entrepreneurs, and access to banking services); health benefits (linking health workers to national health systems); and promotes citizen participation in government. It is projected that within a few years the majority of the world’s population, including in sub-Saharan Africa, will have access to mobile broadband. This indicator measures the number of mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The Broadband Commission describes broadband as: (a) always on; (b) high-capacity connectivity; and (c) enabling combined provision of multiple services simultaneously.1

The ITU definition refers to access to data communications (e.g. the Internet) at broadband downstream speeds greater than or equal to 256 Kbit/s.  This indicator must be seen in conjunction with indicator 63.


By urban/rural, sex, age. Other opportunities for disaggregation to be reviewed.

Comments and limitations:

While this indicator provides a useful metric to monitor the uptake of mobile broadband technology, the data may include people who have more than one mobile broadband subscription and can overestimate the percentage of the population using mobile broadband subscriptions.

This indicator will need to be flexible and adaptable to the pace of technological innovations. The technological landscape in 2020 will likely be very different to the current one, and perhaps then mobile broadband subscriptions will no longer be a good reflection of the access to enabling ICTs.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Administrative data.

Potential lead agency or agencies:


  1. From the core list of ICT indicators developed by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, please see the report that was prepared for the forthcoming UN Statistical Commission meeting (Annex 1).