What Is Attached to Our Global ICT Infrastructure?

How much gear is attached our global ICT infrastructure? Our 2017 inventory counts almost over 24 billion 'edge' items, The latest update to these counts is consumer Internet of Things (IoT).

Edge Device Type 2017 Estimate
Mobile Phones 7.7
Business IoT 3.1
Radios 2.7
Other media [1] 2.0
PCs 2.0
Printers, Consumer Broadband [2] 2.0
Televisions 1.7
Tablets 1.0
Landline Phones 1.0
Other Consumer IoT 0.9
Total Items 24.5

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

Edge devices consume resources and waste of there own, but they also consumption and waste at the Communications and Core layers. Still, we estimate that Edge devices consume more consume more ICT energy than Core infrastructure elements such as data centers.

Internet of Things

"Business IoT"does not duplicate other existing counts. Gartner describes these Internet of Things devices: "smart electric meters...commercial security cameras...applications tailored to specific industry verticals (including manufacturing field devices, process sensors for electrical generating plants and real-time location devices for healthcare)". Using data from GSMA Intelligence, we estimate that about 800 million have licensed cellular connectivity.

Much Consumer IoT counts devices already inventoried, such as STBs and TVs. Our "Other Consumer IoT" includes 'wearables' and 'connected cars'.

IoT counts are still a tricky thing. See our discussion, Is A Cow A Device?

What is out of service?

All these edge device estimates are for in-service items. We have a post the presents the basis for our average service life of five years


Green ICT and media tech.
How the materials in our e-gear play central roles in the problems of conflict minerals and resource insecurity.