Rising 3G penetration and mobile data usage is playing a key role in driving economic growth, according to a new study published this morning by the GSMA and Deloitte.

The report claims to offer “the first estimates of the impact of mobile data usage on GDP growth in developed and developing markets.”

It calculates that a 10 percent shift from 2G to 3G penetration increases GDP per capita growth by 0.15 percentage points; while a doubling of mobile data use leads to an increase of 0.5 percentage points in the GDP growth rate.

Countries characterised by a higher level of data usage per 3G connection – such as Russia, the UK and South Korea – have seen an increase in their GDP growth of up to 1.4 percentage points.

Meanwhile, in developing markets, a 10 percent expansion in mobile penetration is said to increase productivity by 4.2 percentage points.

“In this period of economic uncertainty, governments should look to the mobile industry as a key partner for economic growth and put in place policies that encourage investment in broadband infrastructure, which will serve to enhance productivity, as well as policies to drive the development of new data services that will boost the economy and benefit society,” said the GSMA’s Tom Philips.

The report draws from research of data usage and economic growth across 14 countries provided by Cisco Systems based on their Visual Networking Index (VNI), as well as Deloitte studies on the productivity impact of mobile in 79 countries and the impact of 3G penetration across 96 countries.

The full report is available online