Global mobile network connections now 5 billion, GSMA says

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Mobile Internet, Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA

 

By Martin Ekpeke

Key takeaways from the 2017 edition of the Global Mobile Trends, published by the GSMA show that five billion people across the world, which represents two-thirds of the world’s population are now connected to mobile networks.

The Global Mobile Trend report, however, noted that the growth is slow as it took four years to move from 4 billion to the 5 billion subscribers, worrying that the next billion subscribers will take a longer period.

Other notable key takeaways from the report is the explosion of 4G network, which is forecast to account for two-thirds of global mobile connections by 2025 (up from around a quarter today), driven by increasing 4G adoption over this period in major emerging markets such as Brazil, India and Indonesia.

The report also noted that the pathway to 5G deployments will likely target high-bandwidth applications as an extension to 4G, notably 8K ultra-HD video and VR/AR apps, arguing that although the US will focus initially on using 5G as a last-mile technology for home broadband, South Korea and Japan are likely to be among the first 5G markets, showcasing the technology at the Olympics in 2018 and 2020, respectively. However, on a global basis, it’s expected that 5G networks will be rolled out at a slower rate than 4G and adoption is therefore also likely to be slower.

The report, which is based on data from GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, and selected third-party sources, also believe a paradigm shift in network architecture is required to support the shift to 5G and Internet of Things. It says the adoption of 5G requires the creation of decentralised networks that combine a number of network technologies (e.g. Small cells, LPWA), using software-controlled network functions, and running over both licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

The 2017 GSMA Global Mobile Trends report is grouped into several chapters: consumer usage trends; subscriber and mobile internet growth in emerging markets; networks; financial performance (including revenue, EBITDA margin and capex trends); competitive landscape and cross-sector competition analysis; and statistics and commentaries on every regional mobile market worldwide.

The report provides exclusive data and analysis on the key trends shaping the future of the mobile ecosystem and was published at Mobile World Congress Americas being held in San Francisco.

According to  LaxmiAkkaraju, Chief Strategy Officer at the GSMA, the latest Global Mobile Trends report provides a comprehensive view of the opportunities and challenges facing the mobile industry as the industry is gradually migrating into a new era of ubiquitous connectivity.

“Built on best-in-class GSMA Intelligence data and produced by our in-house team of industry analysts, today’s report maps out how future networks and operator business models are evolving within a rapidly shifting industry landscape,” he said.

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