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Mobile Operators and Networks

The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent economic turmoil, mobile internet connectivity continued to grow. For the first time, more than half of the world’s population – just over 4 billion people – are using mobile internet. In 2020, coverage continued to increase, with 94% of the population now covered by a mobile broadband network.

However, 43% of the world’s population is still not using mobile internet despite living within the footprint of a mobile broadband network. The unconnected disproportionately live in low- and middle-income countries and are more likely to be poorer, less educated, older, rural and women. While increasing mobile broadband coverage remains an important issue to address, reducing the usage gap is key to close the digital divide.

The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity report is the annual flagship publication of the Connected Society programme since 2018. This report provides the mobile industry and other stakeholders with a comprehensive overview of the trends in global connectivity, as well as insights on key barriers to mobile internet adoption and use, to inform progress towards closing the coverage and usage gaps.

Further country-level data can be found in the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index, a tool which measures the performance of 170 countries, representing 99% of the global population, against the key enablers of mobile internet adoption: infrastructure; affordability; consumer readiness; and content and services. The Index was developed as part of the mobile industry’s commitment to drive mobile internet connectivity and accelerate digital inclusion.

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