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4 Challenges to Reaching 3.8 Billion Mobile Internet Users by 2020

By Wayan Vota on November 24, 2014


According to new data released by GSMA Intelligence, 3.8 billion people or half of the world’s population will be using mobile devices to access the Internet by 2020. And where will almost all of the additional mobile Internet users come from? The developing world!

Mobile Internet users in the developing world will double from 1.5 billion in 2013 to 3 billion by 2020, rising from 25% today to 45% of the developing world population that will be accessing Internet services and consuming mobile data for everything from email and web browsing, to social networking and online gaming.

However, as the GSMA details in their new Digital Inclusion report, there are four critical areas that need to be addressed to enable ‘offline’ populations to access mobile Internet services:

    1. Extending network coverage into remote, off-grid locations, which could require government support for voluntary network infrastructure sharing, the release of low- frequency spectrum and public subsidies;


  • Removing the affordability barrier by working to lower the cost of mobile ownership and ensuring that mobile internet devices and data plans are not subject to restrictive government taxes and fees;



  • Tackling illiteracy and the lack of internet awareness, which are considered the main consumer barriers to mobile internet adoption, even in cases where coverage and affordability issues have been addressed. According to the United Nations, there were 774 million illiterate adults globally in 2011;



  • Ensuring that mobile internet content is available on as many devices as possible in the correct languages, and is relevant to the needs and interests of local users. E- government services are emerging as a major source of local content in developing countries and are therefore seen as a key driver of mobile internet usage.


Thank you to the GSMA for recognizing that overcoming these challenges will lead to social and economic gains for mobile network operators, the broader mobile industry ecosystem, and the developing world as a whole. Now let us work together to achieve and surpass these mobile Internet usage predictions.

Filed Under: Connectivity, Featured, Opportunity
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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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