What Is Attached to Our Global ICT Infrastructure?

How much gear is attached to the edges of our global ICT infrastructure? Our 2017 inventory counts over 20 billion edge items.

Device Type 2017 Estimate
(billions)
Mobile Phones 7.7
Radios 2.7
Other media [1] 2.0
PCs 2.0
Printers, Consumer Broadband [2] 2.0
Televisions 1.7
Tablets 1.4
Landline Phones 1.0
Total Items 20.5

[1] STBs, DVRs, DBS dishes
[2] Includes modems & routers for SOHO and residential

Mobile devices - phones and tablets - are the largest segment, now surpassing the global population. Smart devices drive energy consumption in the cloud's data centers and telecom infrastructure.

This inventory does not include a separate Internet of Things (IoT) category. Many consumer IoT counts (~5.2 billion) overlap devices already inventoried, such as STBs and TVs. Industrial IoT counts (~3.1 billion) are often embedded in manufacturing and utility infrastructure and are thus hard to desperate out into 'devices'.

These estimates are for in-service items. They try to exclude items in storage or disposed (e-waste).

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