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Mobile: 72% of the world will be connected by 2020

Mobile: 72% of the world will be connected by 2020

About three-quarters of the world’s population will be connected to a mobile network by 2020, the latest study from GSMA Intelligence.

The new study the research arm of the GSMA, the mobile telephony industry group indicates that an additional one billion people will become mobile subscribers over the next five years.

The projected growth will bringing the total of connected mobile subscribers to 5.6 billion – equivalent to 72 per cent of the expected global population by this point. However, unique subscriber growth is expected to slow over this period compared to previous years as many markets approach saturation point.

“Over the next five years a further one billion people will take advantage of the social and economic opportunities made possible by mobile connectivity, but we are now entering a new era that presents mobile operators with fresh opportunities and challenges,” Hyunmi Yang, Chief Strategy Officer at the GSMA says.

2015 Market share of top four mobile operators in Nigeria
2015 Market share of top four mobile operators in Nigeria

“We are already seeing operators in highly penetrated developed markets seeking to offset slowing unique subscriber growth by evolving and broadening business models and investing in new network technologies, services and digital ecosystems. As new services continue to develop on mobile platforms, operators worldwide must ensure that they capitalise on the opportunities presented by the vast and growing ecosystem that nearly universal global mobile connectivity has created”, according to GSMA.

The phone’s bright flashlight can view objects from a far distance
Mobile phones are lighting up across the world

Titled “Moving beyond subscriber growth: Emerging opportunities as mobile adoption approaches saturation,” the GSMA Intelligence calculates that there were 4.7 billion unique mobile subscribers worldwide at the end of 2015, equivalent to 63 per cent of the global population. The industry has benefited from rapid subscriber growth over the last five years, adding 1.4 billion new subscribers between 2010 and 2015. But many economically developed regions, notably Europe and the developed markets of Asia Pacific (e.g. South Korea, Japan, Australia) have already reached extremely high levels of mobile penetration and are now at the point where future subscriber growth opportunities are limited. This means that the vast majority of the expected one billion new subscribers over the next five years will come from developing world markets.

GSMA Intelligence calculates unique mobile subscribers based on the number of active SIMs used by an individual, who can account for multiple mobile connections. Measuring unique subscribers is therefore a more meaningful representation of the true reach and impact of the mobile industry than connections. There were 7.3 billion mobile connections (excluding M2M) at the end of 2015, which means that the 4.7 billion subscribers reached by this point accounted for, on average, 1.46 connections (SIMs) each.

According to the organisation that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, the latest unique mobile subscriber statistics are based on the results of an extensive global consumer survey conducted by GSMA Intelligence in 2015. During the process, more than 50,000 representative individuals in more than 50 countries worldwide were surveyed on their mobile usage patterns. Non-surveyed markets were benchmarked against a number of comparable markets.

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Kayode Oladeinde Technology Journalist at Technology Times. Mobile: +234 (0) 7031526929

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