A new report by the GSMA forecasts that half of the world’s population will be using mobile devices to access the internet by 2020.
Last year it was calculated that around 2.2 billion people were using the mobile internet, approximately 30% of the global population. However, an additional 1.6 billion citizens are expected to become mobile internet users over the next six years. That’ll bring the total number to 3.8 billion - around 50% of the world’s expected population - in 2020.
Almost all of the additional mobile internet users expected during the next six years will come from developing markets, according to the report. In addition, there’ll be a move from 2G technology to 3G and 4G services. Last year, 41% of all mobile internet connections were over a 2G service - but by 2020, that percentage will have fallen to just 21%.
Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA, said “Our new findings underline how mobile is now the gateway to the internet for billions of citizens across the world and will be responsible for connecting millions of currently ‘offline’ global citizens to the internet in the years to 2020 and beyond. Developing innovative ways to accelerate digital inclusion in the form of affordable mobile internet access is now a key focus for the GSMA, its operator members and the broader mobile industry ecosystem.”
The GSMA’s report defines a mobile internet subscriber as someone who’s accessed an internet service (i.e. an activity that uses mobile data) on one or more of their mobile devices, excluding traditional mobile operator services such as voice, SMS and MMS.