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8.14 Fixed-telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants

Modified on 2012/11/19 14:10 by MDG Wiki Handbook Categorized as Goal 8


Goal 8. Develop a global partnership for development Target 8.F: In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications


Fixed-telephone subscriptions refers to the sum of the active number of analogue fixed-telephone lines, voice-over-IP (VoIP) subscriptions, fixed wireless local loop (WLL) subscriptions, integrated services digital network (ISDN) voice-channel equivalents and fixed public payphones.

Method of computation
This indicator is calculated as the number of fixed-telephone subscriptions in a country, divided by the population and multiplied by 100.


Even though the number of fixed-telephone subscriptions worldwide has started to decrease, fixed-telephone subscriptions are still a critical infrastructure indicator. Despite the rapid growth of mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, largely replacing fixed-telephony in an increasing number of countries, fixed-telephones remain essential for voice traffic as well as in providing a basis for upgrading to fixed-broadband infrastructure.


Data on fixed-telephone subscriptions are available from administrative records collected regularly, and at least annually, from telecommunication operators by national regulatory authorities or the Ministry in charge of Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Data are reliable and comparable, especially if regulatory authorities and sector ministries adhere to the same definition as the International Telecommunication Union. But they do not always provide information on the geographic distribution of fixed-telephone subscriptions or the distribution between residential and business subscriptions.


It is useful to disaggregate data for this indicator by urban/rural areas, considering the limited availability of fixed-telephone lines in rural areas, particularly in developing countries. It is also useful to distinguish residential from business subscriptions, where these data are collected.

Data on the number of fixed-telephone subscriptions are administrative data and refer to telecommunication infrastructure. They cannot be broken down by sex. Some household surveys include questions about access to and use of ICT. Responses to such surveys can be used to analyse differences by sex, as well as by other socio-economic variables, in access to and uses of ICT.


Data on fixed-telephone subscriptions are considered to be very reliable, timely, and complete. Very few cases of incomplete country data exist, and those that do are usually for countries following periods of war or turmoil.

Technological change has blurred the traditional definition of a fixed-telephone subscription, which used to refer to the connection – typically a copper wire – from a subscriber to the telephone company’s switching exchange. Voice services are increasingly provided over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a relatively new and often more affordable communication channel that is distinct from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Some countries have started to collect data on VoIP and while others are encouraged to measure access to voice telephony by type of technology.


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are essential tools for the advancement of gender equality and for promoting women’s empowerment. They can provide women and girls an education and job training, promote literacy, improve access to health care, enable the exercise of legal rights and participation in government. Accelerating broadband and ICT provision to women and girls can contribute to gender equality, empowerment and social and economic development of both men and women.


Data for global and regional monitoring of this indicator are produced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Data on fixed-telephone subscriptions are collected through annual questionnaires that ITU sends to government telecommunication agencies, usually the regulatory authority, or the Ministry in charge of telecommunication/ICT. When countries do not reply to the questionnaire, ITU carries out research and collects missing values from government web sites, as well as from annual reports by operators. Data are complemented by market research reports.

The data, which are mainly based on administrative records, are verified to ensure consistency with data from previous years. Data are usually not adjusted, but discrepancies in the definition, reference year or breaks in comparability in between years are noted. For this reason, data are not always strictly comparable.

Missing values for the number of fixed-telephone subscriptions are estimated based on the Compound Annual Growth Rate of the last three years and adjusted for regional trends.

Discrepancies between global and national figures may arise when countries use a different definition than the one used by ITU. For example, some countries do not include the number of ISDN voice-channel equivalents and/or fixed-wireless local loop subscriptions when calculating the number of fixed-telephone subscriptions. Discrepancies may also arise in cases where the end of a fiscal year differs from that used by ITU, which is the end of December for most countries. A number of countries have fiscal years that end in March, June, or September.

Regional and global aggregates of the number of fixed-telephone subscriptions are calculated as unweighted sums of the country values. Regional and global penetration rates (per 100 population) are averages of the country values weighted by the population of the countries and regions.




INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION (2011). Handbook for the Collection of Administrative Data on Telecommunication/ICT. Geneva. Available from http://www.itu.int/pub/D-IND-ITC_IND_HBK-2011.

INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION (Annual). World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database. Geneva. Available from http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/publications/world/world.html.

INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION (2009). Manual for measuring ICT access and use by households and individuals. Geneva. Available from www.itu.int/publ/D-IND-ITCMEAS-2009/en.

INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION (Website). ICT Eye. Geneva. Available from www.itu.int/ITU-D/icteye/.

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