This has happened against the backdrop of mobile broadband connections which have grown tenfold from just over 200 million in 2008 to well over two billion by 2013.
The Mobile Economy 2014 report also added that growth should remain strong, driven by the rising smartphone penetration, with almost four billion mobile broadband connections expected to be added globally in the period out to 2020.
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According to the report, capital investment has been focused on both improving network coverage and to facilitate the growth in mobile broadband connections.
“Total investments by the operators are expected to increase going forward in order to accommodate the strong forecast growth in global data traffic, totalling 1.7 trillion US dollars out to 2020,” read part of the report.
The report said higher speed networks and more advanced devices are enabling the growth of data hungry applications such as video streaming, internet browsing and file downloads.
“At a global level, the rate of growth in data traffic is likely to far outstrip the growth in mobile connections.”
The mobile industry has scaled dramatically over the last decade.
“At the end of 2003, there were a little over one billion unique subscribers, meaning that just fewer than one in six people had subscribed to a mobile service. By the end of 2013 this figure had increased to 3.4 billion unique subscribers: equivalent to just under half of the global population,” said the report.
“Globally there were 6.9 billion SIM connections at the end of 2013, with an average of 1.8 active SIM cards per unique subscriber.”
According to the report, while subscriber and connection growth rates are now slowing in developed markets, significant untapped potential remains in developing markets.
“These are forecast to add 880 million unique subscribers by 2020.”
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The mobile Economy 2014 report said there was an accelerating technology shift underway in the global connection base, with an increasing proportion of connections now on higher speeds such as 3G and 4G networks in the developed world.
“The number of commercially available LTE networks is forecast to increase to more than 500 in 128 countries across the world over the next four years, going from covering around a fifth of the global population today to around half by 2017.”