The world’s mobile industry has signed up its 5 billionth unique mobile subscriber, according to GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, which means that more than two-thirds of the global population is now connected to a mobile service.
It has taken four years to add the latest 1 billion subscribers, GSMA Intelligence says.
More than half (55%) of mobile subscribers are based in the Asia Pacific region, which is home to the world’s two largest mobile markets: China and India. China accounts for more than a billion of the world’s subscribers, while India accounts for 730 million.
The most highly penetrated region in the world is Europe, where 86% of citizens are subscribed to a mobile service. Sub-Saharan Africa is the least penetrated region at 44%.
GSMA Intelligence says those five billion unique mobile subscribers account for approximately 7.7 billion mobile connections (excluding M2M).
GSMA Intelligence forecasts that the worldwide number of unique mobile subscribers to increase to 5.7 billion by 2020, or close to three-quarters of the world’s population. Much of that growth is expected to come from connecting rural, low-income populations. India is expected to account for the largest share of growth over that period, responsible for around 30% of new unique subscribers by 2020.