47. Telephone lines and cellular subscribers per 100 population



Telephone lines refer to the number of telephone lines connecting subscribers’ terminal equipment to the public switched network and that have a dedicated port in the telephone exchange equipment.


Cellular subscribers refers to users of cellular telephones who subscribe to an automatic public mobile telephone service that provides access to the public switched telephone network using cellular technology.


Goal/target addressed

Goal 8. Develop a global partnership for development.

Target 18. In co-operation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication.



This indicator and indicator 48 are important tools for monitoring progress towards Goal 8, because effective communication between those involved in the development process is not possible without the necessary infrastructure. Personal computers and telephones allow people to exchange experiences and learn from each other, enabling higher returns on investment and avoiding problems of duplication or missing information. The use of information and communication technologies can make governments more transparent, thereby reducing corruption and leading to better governance. It can help people in rural areas find out about market prices and sell their products at a better price. It can also overcome traditional barriers to better education by making books available online and opening the door to e-learning.


Method of computation

Total telephone lines (see “Definition”) are divided by the population and multiplied by 100. Total cellular subscribers (see “Definition”) are divided by the population and multiplied by 100.


Data collection and source

Data on telephone lines and cellular subscribers are collected through annual questionnaires that the International Telecommunication Union (TCU) sends to government telecommunication agencies. The questionnaire is supplemented by annual reports of industry organizations to cross-check accuracy and to obtain data for countries that do not reply to the questionnaire.



Yearbook of Statistics, annual, International Telecommunication Union (www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict).

World Telecommunication Indicators Database, annual, International Telecommunication Union (www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict).


Periodicity of measurement



Comments and limitations

Data for telephone lines come from administrative records compiled by national regulatory authorities or telecommunication operators and tend to be timely and complete. However, there are comparability issues for mobile subscribers because of the prevalence of pre-paid subscriptions. This arises from differences in the time period chosen for determining when a pre-paid subscription is considered no longer active.



International Telecommunication Union.