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One in eight people around the world now has an active mobile broadband subscription, it has been reported.

Research conducted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on behalf of the UN revealed there are now 872 million subscribers worldwide.

The global total has soared since the last study was conducted in 2009 – two years ago there were just 531 million users.

A number of factors may have contributed to this rise, including mobile phone adoption, the launch of more advanced dongles and the advent of tablet computers.

Since the launch of the Apple iPad in spring 2010, millions of consumers around the world have purchased touch-screen, web-enabled media tablets.

However, the ITU report highlighted a growing divide between mobile broadband adoption rates in the developed and developing worlds.

While almost half the western population has access to mobile broadband, the ratio drops to one person in every 20 in emerging nations.

Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU, commented that the "mobile miracle" has the potential to deliver ICT services to the most disadvantaged people in the world.

"Our challenge now is to replicate that success in broadband," he stated.

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