Report: Four billion mobile subscribers by 2018
A global mobile industry report released earlier today has predicted a boom in mobile subscribers expected to reach four billion people in the next five years. Currently, there are 3.2 billion people pay for mobile services, nearly half of the world’s population. The study was conducted by A. T Kearney and GSMA, which represents 750 mobile operators and organizes the annual Mobile World Congress which started today in Barcelona, Spain. The report forecasts that a further 700 million subscribers would be added in the next four years and the four billion subscriber’s mark would be achieved by 2018. The report said that revenues for mobile operators alone amounted 1.4% of the world’s gross domestic product last year.
According to the report, most of the growth was in the Asia Pacific region, where mobile operators were forecast to raise revenue by 4.0% a year up to 2017, adding $80 billion, equivalent to 23%, to their revenue of $350 billion. The continent of Africa showed the fastest growth, and mobile operators there are predicted to boost revenue by 25% over the 2012 to 2017 period to 70 billion dollars. Worldwide, the growth in mobile operators’ revenues was expected to slow, however, from a 4.0% annual expansion from 2008 to 2012 to an annual pace of 2.3% in the period up to 2017. One of the reasons for the slowdown is the impact of the Europe economic crisis for an estimated fall in revenue from $248 billion to $216 billion from 2008 to 2012.
The mobile market in Europe is expected to decrease further by 2.0% a year to 2017 due to competition and regulation. This trend, together with the growth in traffic, show the increasing value to consumers, who are using mobile services more while spending less according to the report said. The fourth generation mobile networks, which promise download speeds as quick as the best fixed broadband connections, could boost revenues, it said, pointing to higher prices being commanded for 4G in North America, Scandinavia, South Korea and Japan. In Europe, it is still too early to judge consumer reaction to the new services but it is certainly true that operators are positioning 4G as a premium service. At the end of 2012, there were 6.8 billion mobile connections worldwide, a figure expected to grow to 9.7 billion by the end of 2017.
In conclusion, the report noted that the mobile communications industry is creating a mobile economy, both directly through network investment, job creation and contributions to public funding, and by transforming adjacent industries such as education, healthcare, payments, transportation and utilities. However, to fully realize this future and to enable the mobile industry to maximize its investments, it is essential for establishment of a light touch regulatory environment, based predominantly on competition, and develop new business models that will allow all ecosystem participants to benefit from the mobile economy.