Industry association GSMA kept up pressure for action to address a global digital divide despite revealing the proportion of mobile internet users broke through the 50 per cent mark for the first time during 2020.
In its newly-released State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2021 report, the GSMA estimated 51 per cent used mobile internet in 2020 compared with 49 per cent in 2019. But, while hailing the achievement, it noted 3.8 billion still lacked access, despite the majority (3.4 billion) living in areas with suitable coverage.
It noted in a statement this so-called usage gap is a “far bigger challenge” than coverage alone, citing factors including a lack of digital literacy and skills, and device costs as barriers to use.
“Mobile is the primary and often the only way to access the internet in low- and middle-income countries. While more people than ever are now using the mobile internet, some fundamental barriers stop far too many people from using” it, GSMA chief regulatory officer John Giusti explained.
He called for “targeted and collaborative action” by governments and the industry to bridge the digital divide.
The GSMA also released a report covering sub-Saharan Africa which found 495 million people subscribed to mobile services by the end of 2020, up by almost 20 million on 2019.
Adoption of 4G recorded an uptake while 3G growth was slowing rapidly.
The GSMA called for governments and regulators to ensure there is enough spectrum for mobile services and to open mid-band frequencies for future rollouts of 5G.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back