3.3 billion people or 44 per cent of the global population got connected to the mobile internet in 2017, representing an increase of almost 300 million compared to 2016 according to GSMA.
This still leaves more than 4 billion people offline and unable to realize the social and economic benefits that the mobile internet enables. The majority of people that remain unconnected – 3.9 billion – live in developing countries.
Mobile broadband networks still do not cover 1 billion people globally, and approximately 3 billion people who live within the footprint of a network are not currently accessing mobile internet services. In low-income countries, around two thirds of rural populations are not covered by 3G networks.
The Mobile Connectivity Index highlights the importance of factors such as the affordability and quality of mobile broadband services, and network investment in connecting people, both of which can be impacted by high spectrum prices.
Mobile Connectivity Index measures the performance of 163 countries (representing 99 per cent of the world’s population) against key enablers of mobile internet adoption. The Index highlights recent progress made on widening access to the mobile internet and explores key roadblocks to adoption, including spectrum policy.
“If mobile operators don’t get affordable and predictable access to spectrum, it will be consumers who will suffer the most,” said Pau Castells, Director of Economic Analysis at GSMA Intelligence.
“Developing countries have the opportunity to catch up with the developed on mobile adoption; however the investment case in some of these markets is being put at risk. Operators cannot keep paying significantly more for spectrum when consumer incomes and expected profits are much lower in these markets. This is making network investment challenging at a time when policies should encourage the development of the mobile sector to maximize the benefits it can bring to everyone,” added Castells.