Data to overtake voice by 2018, GSMA predicts at #MWC13

26 Feb 2013

Mobile operator data revenues will overtake voice revenues globally by 2018 as we move towards a fully connected world, the GSMA told the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The explosion in mobile data is being driven by demand for connected devices, the rise of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the overarching socio-economic force that mobile represents.

A new report developed by the GSMA in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that mobile connected products and services will revolutionise people’s lives over the next five years. For example, mobile health could not only save US$400bn in healthcare costs in EOCD countries but it could also help to save 1m lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

Connected cars could save one in nine lives through emergency calling services. Connected vehicle technologies could also contribute to feeding more than 40m people annually, equivalent to the entire population of Kenya.

Intelligent transport systems could reduce commute times by 35pc, giving commuters back a whole week each year.

Mobile-based education technologies like tablet computers could help to reduce student drop-out rates by 8pc or 1.8m children. Mobile education technologies could also enable 180m students to further their education.

The increase in mobile operator data revenues is a global trend across both developed and emerging markets. In 2012, Japan became the first country where data revenues exceeded voice revenues, due largely to the availability of advanced mobile broadband networks and a higher adoption of the latest smartphones, tablets and connected devices.

This year, Argentina’s data revenues will exceed voice revenues, attaining this milestone ahead of the US and UK, which will reach this point in 2014. Kenya will experience this shift in 2016, with other emerging economies expected to follow as mobile broadband continues to thrive.

“Mobile data is not just a commodity, but is becoming the lifeblood of our daily lives, society and economy, with more and more connected people and things,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer, GSMA.

“This is an immense responsibility and the mobile industry needs to continue collaborating with governments and key industry sectors to deliver products and services that help people around the world improve their businesses and societies,” O’Hara said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years