World hits four billion mobile connections

11 Feb 2009

There are now more than four billion mobile connections in the world, and this is set to reach six billion connections by 2013, according to the GSMA.

The GSMA said the growth is driven by two primary sources: the integration of mobile into previously unconnected devices and subscriber additions in emerging markets.

“As we enter 2009, the world is in the midst of a broad economic slowdown, one that is impacting every facet of business, every link in the communications value chain,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer of the GSMA.

“To address the significant challenges facing the global economy, the GSMA and its membership are focused on leveraging mobility to create new opportunities and to drive productivity and prosperity.

“GSMA industry initiatives in the areas of mobile broadband, mobile lifestyle and mobile planet will help drive this innovation and growth, despite the challenges of the global economic downturn.”

The GSMA’s mobile broadband initiatives focus on the development of a ubiquitous mobile broadband infrastructure and the proliferation of internet-connected mobile devices.

With the world’s mobile connections now numbering four billion – nearly 100 million of which are mobile broadband – and with 1.1 billion fixed broadband lines reaching only one sixth of the world’s population, the opportunities are vast.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Wednesday 18 February, C-level executives from China Unicom, Google, Nokia Siemens Networks, Qualcomm, Skype, Telstra and Verizon Communications will unite at the ‘Mobile Broadband’ and ‘Mobile Internet’ sessions to explore mobile broadband uptake, how consumers are adapting to the technology, and how internet services become even more compelling when married with always-available mobile broadband.

In addition, at the Mobile Broadband Showcase, the GSMA will be highlighting a number of mobile broadband implementations, including a HSPA+ demonstration, connecting a notebook with a device at peak rates of up to 21Mbps, and more than 50 HSPA devices including netbooks, smart phones, USB modems, data cards and wireless routers.

The GSMA’s Mobile Lifestyle initiatives concentrate on the cross-industry creation of innovative services that combine web attributes with mobility to make services, such as banking or entertainment, far more compelling.

Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace will be sharing his perspective on the role of the mobile industry in entertainment at the Mobile World Congress’ Mobile Backstage conference on Thursday 19 February.

The conference, which features both Kevin Spacey and, will also tackle the technical challenges of delivering mobile services and commercial elements influencing mobile industry and entertainment partner collaboration.

The GSMA’s Mobile Planet initiatives leverage mobility to help improve the lives of individuals across the developing world in a socially responsible manner.

With countries like India adding 10 million new mobile connections per month, and with many users accessing the internet, email and banking exclusively via mobile devices, the developing world is central to mobile industry growth.

By John Kennedy