17th February 2020

Mobile subscribers hit 5 billion globally

According to a GSMA report the number of mobile subscribers has hit 5 billion globally., as measured by GSMA Intelligence in real-time.

The last 1 billion people have taken about 4 years to get connected, and bring the total number of connected subscribers to 2/3 of the world’s population.

“Reaching the 5 billion subscriber milestone is a tremendous achievement for an industry that is only a few decades old, and reflects the many billions of dollars that mobile operators have invested in networks, services and spectrum over many years,” commented Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA.

“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. This massive reach allows the mobile industry to be a key player in delivering global initiatives such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Of this number, over 55% are from the Asia Pacific region, followed by 9% each in Europe, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Middle East and north Africa has an 8% subscriber base and lastly North America takes 5% of the cake.

However, despite Sub-Saharan Africa having the same amount of mobile subscriptions as regions like Europe and Latin america, it has the least number in terms of penetration globally at 44%, and one of the reasons may be the duality of SIM card ownership by mobile subscribers who may have 3 SIMs registered under one name. This would mean mobile penetration is restricted to 1 area where that person is in that country, but his/her mobile connections are counted as 3 while unique mobile subscription are counted as 1.

This is explained by GSMA Intelligence who say: A ‘unique mobile subscriber’ is defined as an individual person that can account for multiple ‘mobile connections’ (i.e SIM cards). According to GSMA Intelligence, the world’s five billion unique mobile subscribers today account for approximately 7.7 billion mobile connections (excluding M2M).

“Subscriber growth opportunities over the coming years will be focused on connecting mainly rural, low-income populations; operators are developing a range of sustainable solutions to deliver affordable connectivity to underserved communities,” added Granryd. “Meanwhile, in mature markets where subscriber growth is slowing, operators are evolving their business models to capture increasing value within the expanding mobile ecosystem, and providing the platform for a new digital world as we enter the 5G era.”

You can see all the figures on subscriber base and penetration per region below:

Region

Unique mobile subscribers (millions)

% of global subscriber base

Subscriber penetration (% of population)

Asia Pacific

2,765

55%

68%

  •    – China

1,081

21%

78%

  •    – India

730

14%

54%

Europe

465

9%

86%

Latin America

459

9%

71%

Sub-Sahara Africa

436

9%

44%

Middle East & North Africa

391

8%

63%

North America

292

6%

80%

CIS

227

5%

79%

TOTAL:

5,035

100%

67%

Sandi

Tech blogger. Gadget junkie. Life lover. I love eyeliner. Miller runs through my veins.

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