Developing world's burgeoning 4G mobile service

WHILE some in regional Australia struggle to get 4G mobile phone reception, a new report has highlighted that even developing countries are getting more 4G services.

The 2016 global edition of GSMA's 'Mobile Economy reports, released on Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, shows the number of 4G connections has surpassed the one billion mark.

The study calculates that the mobile industry made a $3.1 trillion contribution to the world economy last year, equivalent to 4.2 per cent of global GDP. 

"Our new report reveals that mobile broadband is now a truly global phenomenon, extending high-speed connectivity and services to citizens in all corners of the world," said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, the body that runs the congress attended by more than 90,000 people.

"The unprecedented growth in mobile broadband last year is testament to the billions of dollars that mobile operators have invested in next-generation networks, services and spectrum in recent years. Mobile is now the most ubiquitous platform for people and businesses to connect and innovate in today's digital economy."

The Mobile Economy 2016

4G accounted for one billion of the 7.3 billion mobile connections reached by the end of 2015.

The number of 4G connections doubled in 2015, largely as a result of the increase in 4G network deployments in the developing world.

At the end of the year there were 451 live 4G (LTE) networks available in 151 countries, with almost half of these in the developing world.

4G is forecast to account for around a third of the almost nine billion mobile connections expected by 2020. Mobile broadband networks (3G and 4G) accounted for 50 per cent of connections in 2015, a figure set to rise to 70 per cent by 2020.   

The combination of increasing mobile broadband access and rising smartphone adoption is contributing to an explosion in mobile data usage.

The Mobile Economy 2016

Smartphones accounted for 45 per cent of mobile connections in 2015 (up from just 8 per cent in 2010) and a further 2.6 billion smartphone connections are expected to be added over the next five years.

Mobile data volumes are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 49 per cent over the next five years - a more than seven-fold increase - approaching 40 exabytes per month by 20202. This will be equivalent to a global average of 7 gigabytes per subscriber per month.

The number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide stood at 4.7 billion at the end of 2015, equivalent to 63 per cent of the world's population. Unique subscribers are forecast to reach 5.6 billion by 2020, by which point more than 70 per cent of the global population are expected to have a mobile subscription.

More than 90 per cent of subscriber growth over the next five years is forecast to come from developing world markets. 

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai and the Mobile 360 Series conferences.

The writer is at  Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as a guest of Samsung Australia.

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