The mobile industry continues to scale rapidly, with a total of 3.6 billion unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2014. Half of the world’s population now has a mobile subscription—up from just one in five 10 years ago. An additional one billion subscribers are predicted by 2020, taking the global penetration rate to approximately 60%. There were 7.1 billion global SIM connections at the end of 2014, and a further 243 million machine-to-machine (M2M) connections.
1. GLOBAL MARKET OVERVIEWMobile continues to scale rapidly
At the end of 2014, half of the world’s population had at least one mobile subscription, totalling over 3.6 billion unique mobile subscribers. By 2020, around three-fifths of the global population will have a mobile subscription, with close to one billion new subscribers added over the period.
The global mobile subscriber base increased by just over 5% in 2014. Developed markets are growing more slowly as penetration rates approach levels close to saturation. For example, in Europe and North America, unique subscriber growth was below 1% in 2014. At the other end of the spectrum, Sub-Saharan Africa was still the world’s most under-penetrated region with subscriber growth at nearly 12%.
2. MOBILE EMPOWERING PEOPLE AND SOCIETY
Mobile has had a profound impact on national economies worldwide, particularly in the areas of job creation and economic growth. Increasingly ubiquitous and higher speed mobile networks contribute to many aspects of economic, political and social life in both developed and developing regions.
Mobile is the predominant infrastructure in emerging markets and is available to a larger proportion of the population than many other basic services, such as electricity, sanitation and financial. As a result, mobile is already helping to address a number of pressing social, economic and environmental challenges. These challenges are often particularly acute in developing regions, given factors such as high levels of poverty, rapid population growth, and in some areas, the impact of political instability.
3. DELIVERING THE DIGITAL FUTUREMobile at the heart of the new digital ecosystem
Mobile has already redefined consumer experiences in many aspects of daily life, as well as creating a range of new business opportunities and services. As technology and the broader mobile and digital ecosystems continue to evolve, the impact of innovation and disruption will be felt ever wider. New technologies, imaginative use cases and business models are likely to generate even more profound mobile innovations, increasingly linking the digital and physical worlds.
4. GLOBAL ENABLERS TO SPUR INVESTMENT AND GROWTH
The mobile industry is increasingly helping governments across the world achieve their goals. Mobile technologies and services are fuelling economic growth and entrepreneurship, while yielding major social benefits by improving social cohesion, education, financial inclusion and healthcare. With a supportive regulatory framework, the mobile sector will continue to drive socio-economic progress, benefiting individuals, companies and governments alike.
Although local factors mean that regulatory frameworks will differ from market to market, there are some general principles that apply across the globe. If policymakers and regulators encourage investment, competition and innovation, both the mobile sector and the wider digital economy will expand, creating prosperity and new jobs.