GSMA Report Finds Mobile Internet Access Soaring Globally

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GSMA Report Finds Mobile Internet Access Soaring Globally

Mobile connectivity is being embraced by people around the world in ways that is helping to improve their lives, according to a new study from the GSM Association, a trade group that represents mobile service providers. The study, titled, “2017 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals,” looks at mobile connectivity in 2016 and how the mobile industry has improved access to the internet. It also examines how people around the globe are using mobile connections to consume data and looks at what the mobile industry needs to do to further improve global connectivity. The report highlights how far mobile connectivity has come in such a short period of time.

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3G Connectivity Is Everywhere

Around the world, 3G connections covered 83 percent of the population in 2016, up from 79 percent in 2015, according to GSMA. Carriers have expanded their infrastructure investment to boost internet availability.

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Half the World’s Population Have Access to 4G

By the end of 2016, more than half of the world’s population, or about 4 billion people, had access to 4G networks, according to GSMA. 4G connectivity offers improved network quality, which plays “a critical role before and during epidemics, conflicts and natural or climate-related disasters,” the group noted.

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Millions of People Gain Access to Mobile Service Each Year

There are now 4.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, and 3.5 billion people are using mobile networks to access the internet. Carriers around the world added 350 million new mobile internet subscribers in 2016.

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Money Services Go Mobile

Mobile money service use, which allows people to access bank accounts and transfer cash, is also soaring. In 2015, there were 450 million mobile money accounts around the world. That figure increased 23 percent to 555 million registered accounts in 2016.

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Social Network Use Continues to Soar

The use of social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and others is also soaring. In 2015, there were 2 billion social media users globally. By the end of 2016, that number jumped to 2.5 billion, with no signs of a slowdown coming anytime soon.

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Mobile Broadband Speeds Are Rising

In addition to improved access to mobile networks, users around the world are enjoying faster network speeds. In 2016, the average mobile broadband download speed was 16.6Mbps, a significant increase over the average download speed of 13.5Mbps in 2015.

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What About Machine-to-Machine Connections?

Machine-to-machine connections, which enable wireless devices to communicate on mobile networks, also increased sharply, hitting 410 million units worldwide last year. That was up 32 percent from the 310 million connections GSMA calculated in 2015.

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Mobile Shopping Is on the Rise

Mobile shopping is also proving to be popular. By the end of 2016, 1.5 billion people globally used a smartphone or tablet to purchase products from their devices. That figure just beat out the 1.3 billion people who used mobile devices to access government services.

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Even the Agricultural Sector Is Going Mobile

Interestingly, people in the agricultural sector are also seeing value in mobile products. According to GSMA, there were 13 million more people in 2016 using mobile agricultural services, a 54 percent increase from the prior year.

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GSMA Initiatives to Support Mobile Internet Growth

Looking ahead, GSMA clearly believes there is plenty of room for growth. In support, GSMA is taking on several initiatives in the next year to improve mobile internet connectivity, including promoting “Big Data for social good” as well as the Connected Women Commitment Initiative to reduce the gender gap. GSMA also plans to invest in internet of things development and work with governments to ensure better access to the internet.

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