Two-thirds of the world’s mobile connections will be running on 4G and 5G networks by 2025, according to GSMA. It forecast that 4G will account for 53 percent of global mobile connections by 2025 (up from 29 percent in 2017), while 5G networks will grow to account for a further 14 percent, following the launch of the first commercial 5G networks this year.
Growth in 4G, 5G, and the Internet of Things (IoT). In under a decade since the first commercial 4G networks were launched, 4G is on track to become the world’s leading mobile network technology by next year and to account for more than half (53 percent) of global connections by 2025. During this period, operators will also be investing in new 5G networks; beginning this year, the first wave of 5G launches will occur in North America and major markets across Asia and Europe. 5G connections are forecast to reach 1.2 billion by 2025, accounting for 14 percent of the total connections at that time. Meanwhile, growth in the IoT will be driven by a proliferation of use cases for smart homes, cities, buildings, and enterprises. GSMA Intelligence forecasts that the number of IoT connections (cellular and non-cellular) will increase more than threefold between 2017 and 2025, reaching 25 billion. To date, 23 mobile operators have commercially launched 41 mobile IoT networks worldwide across using the NB-IoT and LTE-M standards.
The mobile industry signed up its 5 billionth unique mobile subscriber last year and is forecast to add almost another billion by 2025, reaching 5.9 billion subscribers – equivalent to 71 percent of the world’s expected population by that point. Subscriber growth over this period will be driven by developing countries, particularly Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, as well as markets across Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Further, by 2025, it is expected that 5 billion subscribers will be using their mobile phones to access the internet, up from 3.3 billion in 2017.
A growing contributor to the economy and social development. The mobile ecosystem accounted for 4.5 percent of global GDP globally in 2017, a contribution equivalent to USD 3.6 trillion in economic value added. This contribution is forecast to reach USD 4.6 trillion, or 5 percent of GDP, by 2022 as countries around the globe increasingly benefit from improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services and M2M/IoT solutions. In 2017, the wider mobile ecosystem also supported 29 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector; almost USD 500 billion was raised through general taxation, plus a further USD 25 billion via mobile spectrum auctions.
In addition to contributing to economic growth, mobile technology is increasingly being used to address the challenges of access, cost, and quality of service in key sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, utilities, education, and financial services. Following the mobile industry’s commitment to helping deliver the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) 2 years ago, the industry is making an important contribution across all 17 SDGs as a result of three key trends: better networks, greater connectivity, and increased use of mobile-enabled services.