MWC 2016: 4G connections hit 1bil mark, driven by developing world

  • Accelerating shift to 3G/4G across both developed and developing markets
  • Industry made a US$3.1-trillion contribution to the world economy last year
MWC 2016: 4G connections hit 1bil mark, driven by developing world

THE number of 4G (Fourth Generation) mobile connections worldwide has surpassed the one-billion mark and is on track to account for a third of all mobile connections by 2020, according to a new study by the GSM Association (GSMA).
The 2016 global edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy series of reports points to an accelerating technology shift to 3G/4G mobile broadband networks across both developed and developing markets, which is fuelling digital innovation, smartphone adoption and mobile data growth, the association said in a statement.
The study calculates that the mobile industry made a US$3.1-trillion contribution to the world economy last year, equivalent to 4.2% cent of global GDP (gross domestic product), it said at the ongoing Mobile World Congress (MWC 2016) in Barcelona.
“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 GSMA director general Mats Granryd.
“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,” he declared.

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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, the GSMA said.
Mobile broadband networks (3G and 4G) accounted for 50% of connections in 2015, a figure set to rise to 70% by 2020.
Smartphones accounted for 45% of mobile connections in 2015 (up from just 8% 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% over the next five years – a more than seven-fold increase – approaching 40 exabytes per month by 2020. This will be equivalent to a global average of seven 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% of the world’s population.
Unique subscribers are forecast to reach 5.6 billion by 2020, by which point more than 70% of the global population are expected to have a mobile subscription. More than 90% of subscriber growth over the next five years is forecast to come from developing world markets.
The new report The Mobile Economy: 2016 is authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA. To access the full report, go here.
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