Half of the world's population will have mobile phones this year, with global mobile phone use to pass a record 3 billion in July.

The demand for mobile phones in China, India and Africa is driving the mobile boom, a report released today by telecoms analysis firm The Mobile World stated.

Before the year is out, some 3.25 billion mobile phone subscriptions will be in use worldwide. More than 1,000 new customers are signing up for mobiles every minute around the world, the report showed.

"It took over 20 years to connect the first billion subscribers, but only 40 months to connect the second billion," said John Tysoe, principal analyst at The Mobile World. "The 3 billion milestone will be passed in July 2007, just two years on."

Emerging markets lead the way

The majority of handsets (65 per cent) made this year will be sold in emerging markets. Manufacturers including Nokia and Motorola are pushing out low-cost phones, and network operators continue to cut call charges, analysts have said.

The figures in the report take account of multiple mobile subscriptions. In Europe, there are 666 million active mobile connections.

Some 250 million handsets were sold and 135 million new customers signed up to mobile phone networks in the first quarter of 2007, according to the report.