. GSMA claims 4G adoption begins to decline

In 2021, mobile technologies and services generated $4.5 trillion of economic value-added or five per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This figure is expected to grow by more than $400 billion by 2025 to nearly $5 trillion as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services.

This was revealed in the 2022 Mobile Economy Report, unveiled by the Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA). It noted that by the end of 2021, 5.3 billion people subscribed to mobile services, representing 67 per cent of the global population.

GSMA observed that in a growing number of markets, most adults now own a mobile phone, meaning that future growth will come from younger populations taking out a mobile subscription for the first time. It noted that over the period to 2025, there will be an additional 400 million new mobile subscribers, most of them from Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, taking the total number of subscribers to 5.7 billion (70 per cent of the global population).

The telecoms body, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting over 750 operators with nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, noted that 5G adoption continued to grow rapidly in pioneer markets, with the total number of connections set to reach one billion in 2022.

It stressed that the momentum has been boosted by a number of factors, including economic recovery from the pandemic, rising 5G handset sales, network coverage expansions and overall marketing efforts by mobile operators.

Meanwhile, GSMA noted that a new wave of 5G roll-outs in large markets with modest income levels (such as Brazil, Indonesia and India) could further incentivise the mass production of more affordable 5G devices, which in turn could further bolster subscriber growth.

According to the body, by the end of 2025, 5G will account for around a quarter of total mobile connections and more than two in five people around the world will live within reach of a 5G network.

GSMA said 4G still has room to grow in most developing markets, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 4G adoption is still below a fifth of total connections and operators are stepping up efforts to migrate existing 2G and 3G customers to 4G networks.

It, however, observed that rising 5G adoptions in leading markets, such as China, South Korea and the US, means that 4G adoptions on a global level are beginning to decline.

“Globally, 4G adoption will account for 55 per cent of total connections by 2025, down from a peak of 58 per cent in 2021,” GSMA stated.

The telecoms body said mobile technology would be at the centre of efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to GSMA, the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed progress on the SDGs around the world, with the pandemic exacerbating existing social and economic inequalities.

It observed that with lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures in place, people had relied on mobile networks to stay connected and access life-enhancing services.

“As a result, mobile adoption has continued to increase during the pandemic, despite sluggish economic growth and the negative effects on consumer incomes. With only eight years until the deadline for the SDGs, stakeholders are renewing their efforts to achieve the SDGs. Mobile technology will play a central role in those efforts, from improving access to education and healthcare to addressing issues with poverty and inequality,” GSMA added.