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Mobile Operators and Networks

The Mobile Economy 2020

By the end of 2019, 5.2 billion people subscribed to mobile services, accounting for 67% of the global population. This is forecast to grow by 600 million subscribers – mostly in India, China, Pakistan and Nigeria – to 5.8 billion by 2025 (70% of the population). At the same time, the connectivity gap continues to close: almost 1 billion additional people have been covered by mobile broadband over the last five years and an additional 1.2 billion will begin using mobile internet by 2025, bringing the total number of mobile internet subscribers to 5 billion (over 60% of the population). This growth in connectivity means mobile continues to make a significant contribution to the global economy. In 2019, mobile technologies and services generated $4.1 trillion of economic value added (4.7% of GDP) globally. This figure will approach $5 trillion (4.9% of GDP) by 2024 as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services.

2019 was a pivotal year for 5G: the technology is now live in 24 markets, while 5G awareness and intention to upgrade among consumers are both on the rise. By 2025, 5G will account for 20% of global connections, with take-up particularly strong across developed Asia, North America and Europe. 4G became the dominant mobile technology across the world in 2019, constituting 52% of total connections; this figure will grow over the next few years, peaking at just under 60% of global connections in 2023.

Despite some financial headwinds, the outlook for global mobile revenue remains stable. Following a stabilisation of pricing trends, particularly in Europe and India, and continued strong data growth in emerging markets, total mobile revenues reached $1.03 trillion in 2019. Revenue will rise steadily at around 1% per year out to 2025, largely because of growing revenues in enterprise IoT segments and new 5G services.

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