The Mobile Economy Report 2021

The GSMA Mobile Economy series provides the latest insights on the state of the mobile industry worldwide. Produced by the research team, GSMA Intelligence, these reports contain a range of technology, socio-economic and financial datasets, including forecasts out to 2025.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the health and livelihoods of individuals and communities around the world. Mobile has been particularly instrumental during this period, keeping people connected and underpinning new services in response to the pandemic. Around the world, the exceptional scale and utility of mobile networks and services have:

• enabled people to work and learn remotely, stay in touch with loved ones, and perform many other everyday activities online

• supported innovative health solutions, such as remote patient monitoring and contact tracing, to control the spread of the virus

• provided a platform for people to access digital financial services, given efforts to reduce the reliance on cash

• facilitated the safe and efficient distribution of social welfare to vulnerable people

• generated valuable insights on mobility patterns from anonymized and aggregated mobile big data to inform government response measures at various stages of the pandemic.

The pandemic has had little impact on 5G momentum; in some instances, it has even resulted in operators speeding up their network rollouts, with governments and operators looking to boost capacity at a time of increased demand. By the end of 2025, 5G will account for just over a fifth of total mobile connections, and more than two in five people around the world will live within reach of a 5G network.

By the end of 2020, 5.2 billion people subscribed to mobile services, representing 67% of the global population. Adding new subscribers is increasingly difficult, as markets are becoming saturated and the economics of reaching rural populations are becoming more difficult to justify in a challenging financial climate for mobile operators. There will be nearly half a billion new subscribers by 2025, taking the total number of subscribers to 5.7 billion (70% of the global population)6

In 2020, mobile technologies and services generated $4.4 trillion of economic value added (5.1% of GDP) globally. This figure will grow by $480 billion by 2025 to nearly $5 trillion as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services. 5G is expected to benefit all economic sectors of the global economy during this period, with services and manufacturing seeing the most impact.

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