Future of Mobile Internet Around the Globe

The state of mobile internet around the world is improving at an unbelievably high speed for the last several years. Of late, not only the rollout of 4G in almost every part of the world but the introduction of 5G in many countries has added to the adoption of mobile internet users globally.

With time, the reliance of people on using the internet via desktops is receding and the shift to mobile or handheld devices for accessing the internet is increasing rapidly. In the year 2014, mobile internet usage overtook desktop internet usage for the first time. More and more people are relying on mobile phones for accessing the internet compared to desktops which was not the norm earlier.

Accessibility of the internet via handheld devices did change the behavior of people in many ways.  As per one study, 75% of mobile users use their devices for shopping online. This change in behavior is due to the increase in internet penetration rate.

According to one study, the mobile internet penetration rate reached 44% in 2015, and in the next five years, it was expected to grow by 60% worldwide.

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What Lead To The Shift?

In developing and low-income countries, the introduction of 4G services did add to the change we are witnessing in the last several years. Further, the Covid-19 pandemic did accelerate the digital transformation.

People around the globe are now relying more heavily on the mobile internet than they previously were. In 2014, a third of the world’s population was using mobile internet. But now half of the world’s population is using the internet.

The frequency of online activities has increased a lot. More and more people are able to access content, information, and services through the mobile internet.

In the low-income countries where the bulk of the population resides, accessibility to the internet grew over time, and many global telecom operators made this possible by focusing on the uncovered areas. The 4G cover increased to 84% as per the latest data available.

In almost every developing country, mobile is the primary source for accessing the internet. For video calling, music streaming, and watching videos online, mobile internet is the preferred option for most of the population living in underdeveloped areas of the world. However, this is not to say that people in the developed world are not preferring access to the internet via mobile phones. The increase in mobile internet usage since the pandemic-induced lockdowns has increased to a large extent in the global north. Internet penetration was never an issue in advanced countries, but the shift to reliance on mobile internet has increased drastically over the last few years.

Focus Areas

When it comes to the uncovered population in terms of mobile internet connectivity, Sub-Saharan Africa houses 47% of the global population. Owning a smartphone is a luxury in many such parts of the world. This part of the African continent also has the highest percentage of basic and feature phone users in the world. 45% of all the connections of these phones are present in this region alone, indicating how much is to be done for the adoption of smartphones.

If there are smartphones being used in this part of the African continent, most support 3G not the in-vogue 4G. One of the reasons for lagging behind in technological advancements is the lack of digital skills and literacy.

For bridging the gap, the availability of affordable internet-enabled phones ought to be the priority, and increasing internet penetration in the hitherto uncovered areas must be the priority of not only governments but private players in the industry must come forward.

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