More than half the world’s population can now access LTE, with networks having spread to almost four billion people, according to a new report by the ITU.

The ITU’s ICT Facts and Figures study showed that 53 per cent of people have access to LTE, while basic mobile services (2G networks) have close to ubiquitous coverage, at 95 per cent.

Networks providing 3G coverage or above, meanwhile, reach 84 per cent of the global population, but only 67 per cent of rural areas.

Rising accessibility will mean a rise in total mobile broadband subscriptions by the end of this year, increasing from 3.2 billion to 3.6 billion, noted the report.

This could also be down to affordability, with the average price for a basic fixed broadband plan more than twice as high as the average for a comparable mobile broadband service.

In “Least Developed Countries” (classified by the UN in terms of poverty, human resource and economic vulnerability) fixed services are on average more than three times as expensive as mobile broadband.

Mobile internet subscriptions in developing countries continue to show growth, reaching 41 per cent penetration, but the internet body warned that growth in this metric is slowing overall.

Developed countries show a 90.3 per cent penetration rate, while the world stands at close to 50 per cent.

Some 3.9 billion people, more than half of the world’s population, will however still not be using the internet in any form by the end of the year, the report added, with internet penetration reaching 81 per cent in developed countries, 40 per cent in developing countries and only 15 per cent in LDCs.