By the end of 2016, two thirds of the world’s population had a mobile subscription, a total of 4.8 billion unique subscribers, according to the GSMA. By 2020, almost three quarters of the world’s population–or 5.7 billion people–will subscribe to mobile services.
Mobile broadband connections (3G and 4G technologies) accounted for 55 percent of total connections in 2016, a figure that will be close to three quarters of the connections base by 2020, GSMA says. The proportion of 4G connections alone is forecast to almost double from 23 percent to 41 percent by the end of the decade.
But business challenges already are obvious. Total mobile revenues reached $1.05 trillion in 2016, up 2.2 percent on 2015.
“However, the future outlook remains mixed, with increasing competition, regulatory intervention and slowing subscriber growth weighing on revenue growth,” says GSMA. That alone shows why the interest in new internet of things apps and services is so high. As the market for services used by humans peaks, new markets are expected to come from services used by sensors and machines.
The Asia Pacific set to account for two thirds of the 860 million new subscribers expected globally by the end of the decade. India, already the world’s second largest mobile market, will be the primary driver of this growth, with 310 million new unique subscribers. Regional penetration rates are forecast to range from 50 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa to 87 percent in Europe.