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A Forward Glance at Mobile Growth

By May 18, 2017blog

Two thirds of the world’s population had a mobile subscription by the end of 2016. That is a whopping grand total of 5.8 billion unique mobile subscribers. That number is set to grow even further in the coming years, with nearly three quarters of the world population subscribing to mobile services by the end of the decade.

With the market flooded with cheap mobile options, even Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, is forecast to have a mobile penetration rate of 50% by 2020. Two thirds of the 860 million new subscribers between now and 2020 will be from Asia Pacific, the fastest growing mobile market these days.

Focusing on some statistics close to home, mobile users subscribed to 4G networks is set to grow from 63% in 2016 to 82% by the end of 2020, while 2G and 3G rates will decrease from 10% to 5% and from 29% to 12% respectively.

The total number of mobile subscribers in North America is forecast to grow from 81% in 2016 to 85% by the end of the decade, with smartphone adoption growing from 77% to 79%.

4G usage around the world is set to nearly double, going from 23% in 2016 up to 41% by the end of 2020.

And hang on to your hats because the internet is going to get even faster in just a few years. The commercial roll-out of the 5G network is expected in late 2019 to early 2020. The first phase will see fixed-wireless access networks using millimeter wave spectrum (mmW). The mmW frequencies will facilitate an enormous increase in bandwidth potential. The 5G network is expected to spread fast and cover 34% of the global population by as early as 2025.

Total mobile revenues stood at $1.05 trillion in 2016, a growth of 2.2% over the previous year. Mobile technologies and services generated 4.4% of GDP globally in 2016, around $3.3 trillion of economic value. An increase to $4.2 trillion (4.9% of the GDP) is forecast for the year 2020.

The mobile ecosystem supported approximately 28 million jobs in 2016, with $450 billion in taxation funneled into the public sector.

With readily available cheap smartphones and high speeds of connectivity, consumer engagement is focusing on messaging platforms and the mobile industry as a whole is developing the area of AI, for example in the form of virtual agents and chatbots.

In the coming years, we can expect to see more mobile users globally and more innovative applications focusing on enhancing our experiences as consumers. As the industry develops, we can also expect to see new regulatory policies catching up with the technologies to ensure our safety when engaging with our devices.