The global mobile market continues growing rapidly. At the end of 2015, the total number of unique mobile subscribers reached 4.7 bn (up more than 30% year-on-year), while the global mobile communications penetration rate was 63%. At the same time, the overall growth rate of the number of mobile subscribers globally keeps slowing down due to market saturation in developed countries and connection difficulties faced by low-income segments of the population in emerging markets. According to estimates by GSMA Intelligence, the global subscriber base will total 5.6 bn by the end of the decade, and over 70% of the world’s population will have access to mobile communications.
With increasing demand for mobile data, lowering prices and a vast range of available data-enabled devices, mobile data transmission has become the main driver of growth for mobile operators around the world.
The global market is currently witnessing a shift to mobile broadband networks on the back of rapid deployment of 4G/LTE networks worldwide. Mobile broadband (3G and 4G technology) accounts for almost 50% of the total number of connections as at the end of 2015, and this share is expected to exceed 70% by 2020 due to increased price affordability, a wide range of smartphones, more extensive and intensive 3G and 4G network coverage, and in certain cases thanks to operators subsidising the purchase of handsets.
The growing share of high-speed connections and rapid deployment of 3G and 4G networks largely reflect the increasing penetration rate of smartphones. By the end of 2015, smartphones penetration rate in developed countries reached 65%, and 40% of the total number of connections in emerging markets, mainly driven by the Asia Pacific region and Latin America. Smartphones penetration rate will increase to 2.6 bn by 2020, with 90% of the growth coming from emerging markets. China currently remains the largest market for smartphones, but soon India will become the main growth driver: the Indian market is expected to generate almost 0.5 bn new connections within the next five years.
According to Cisco, in 2015, global mobile internet traffic grew 74% year-on-year to 3.7 exabyte per month, with mobile video accounting for 55% of the total traffic consumption. Average monthly traffic on smartphones grew 43% year-on-year to 929 MB per month as compared to 648 MB per month in 2014.
International Data Corporation (IDC) analysts predict that in 2016 3.2 bn people on Earth will have internet access, representing 44% of the world’s population, while 2 bn users will access internet on mobile devices. According to IDC,- the highest growth in internet penetration rates has been recorded in countries like China, India and Indonesia. These markets will account for nearly half of the global growth in the next five years. This is due to low-priced devices and tariff plans for wireless services in these Asian countries.
According to IDC’s forecast, the global market for mobile internet will grow at an average annual rate of 2% in the years 2016 to 2020. This rate could well prove to be much higher with the potential emergence of new methods to provide internet access that are now being actively researched by companies like Google, SpaceX and Facebook.
According to industry analysts, currently over 2 bn people use e-mail and read news online, while the number of online buyers has hit record highs. In 2015, an estimated total of over USD 100 bn was spent to purchase travel online, and roughly the same amount was spent on books, CDs, DVDs, application downloads and online training courses.