The GSMA has announced that the number of global mobile connections has surpassed the 5 billion mark, according to new data from mobile industry analysis firm Wireless Intelligence.
The achievement comes just 18 months after the 4 billion connection milestone was reached at the end of 2008, and Wireless Intelligence is predicting that the mobile industry will reach 6 billion global connections in the first half of 2012.
According to Wireless Intelligence data, the mobile penetration rate on a global basis at the 5 billion connection mark was 74 percent, compared to 60 percent at 4 billion connections. The highest penetrated region is Western Europe at 130 percent, while the lowest is Africa at 52 percent. Eastern Europe (123 percent) is the only other global region to have exceeded 100 percent mobile penetration.
The main driver of growth continues to be the Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for 47 percent of global mobile connections at the end of 2Q10. This is up approximately 5 percent from 4Q08 when the 4 billion connections mark was reached. Growth in Asia Pacific is due mainly to ongoing growth in China and India – the world’s two largest mobile markets – which offset slowing growth elsewhere in the region, in markets such as Pakistan and the Philippines. Growth was slower in mature markets such as Europe and North America, which now account for approximately 27 percent of global connections, compared to more than 30 percent 18 months ago.
From a technology perspective, one factor in the overall increase in connections is the rapid adoption of Mobile Broadband. Currently, there are more than 287 million HSPA connections across 127 countries, with more than 14 million connections being added each month around the world, and it’s expected that the industry will surpass 300 million HSPA connections in August.
This momentum is set to continue; today there are 162 live HSPA, 52 live HSPA+, and two live LTE networks, with planned deployments for a further 35 HSPA, 44 HSPA+ and 113 LTE networks. LTE is widely regarded as the de facto Mobile Broadband technology of the future that will be adopted by the vast majority of mobile operators globally and is expected to experience substantial growth over the next few years.