Some 5 billion unique subscribers are now connected to a mobile service worldwide, representing two-thirds of the global population, according to real time data from GSMA Intelligence.
In a statement, Mats Granryd, director general of trade group GSMA, hailed the milestone as a “tremendous achievement for an industry that is only a few decades old” and said it reflected the billions of dollars spent by mobile operators on networks, services and spectrum through the years.
“Today mobile is a truly global platform, delivering connectivity and, perhaps more importantly, social and economic opportunities to citizens in all corners of the world,” he said.
GSMA Intelligence said it took four years to add the latest 1 billion subscribers, with more than half (55 per cent) of mobile subscribers now based in the Asia-Pacific region.
China is the world’s largest mobile market accounting for more than 1 billion of the world’s subscribers, with India the second largest on 730 million.
India is tipped to account for the largest share of growth by the end of the decade, with GSMA Intelligence predicting the country will generate around 30 per cent of new unique subscribers by 2020.
Europe, meanwhile, is the highest penetrated region of the world today, where 86 per cent of citizens subscribe to a mobile service. The region’s unique mobile subscriber base stands at 465 million.
At the other end of the spectrum, Africa is the least penetrated region, with 44 per cent of the population and 436 million unique subscribers.
Overall, unique global mobile subscribers will increase to 5.7 billion by the end of the decade, representing almost 75 per cent of the world population, according to the GSMA Intelligence forecast.
Granryd added future subscriber growth opportunities will be focussed on connecting “rural, low income populations”, while mature markets will see an evolution to capture new opportunities and provide “the platform for a new digital world as we enter the 5G era”.