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There are now five billion unique mobile subscribers in the world

Earlier this year, GSMA released its annual report on the 'Mobile Economy’ for 2017, which predicted that five billion people around the world would be mobile users by mid-2017. Today, GSMA has announced that the five billionth unique mobile subscriber has been accounted for according to its real-time data, which means two-thirds of the world population is now connected via a mobile service.

It took only a few decades for the mobile industry to achieve the five billion users milestone, with the last one billion subscribers added during the last four years only. According to Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA:

Today mobile is a truly global platform, delivering connectivity and, perhaps more importantly, social and economic opportunities to citizens in all corners of the world.

As previously expected, the growth was driven mainly by huge Asia markets, such as India. In fact, about 55 percent of mobile subscribers are currently based in the Asia Pacific region, as can be seen from the table below.

Region Unique mobile subscribers (millions) % of global subscriber base Subscriber penetration (% of population)
Asia Pacific 2,765 55% 68%
- China 1,081 21% 78%
- India 730 14% 54%
Europe 465 9% 86%
Latin America 459 9% 71%
Sub-Sahara Africa 436 9% 44%
Middle East & North Africa 391 8% 63%
North America 292 6% 80%
CIS 227 5% 79%
TOTAL 5,035 100% 67%

Unique Mobile Subscribers by Global Region, Q2 2017. Source: GSMA Intelligence.

Because of the relatively low subscriber penetration in India, the country is expected to lead the market growth with an expected 310 million new unique subscribers by 2020. By the same time, GSMA predicts the world will achieve 5.7 billion unique mobile subscribers.

Source: GSMA | Mobile phone and antenna image via Shutterstock.

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