BARCELONA, Spain -- GSMA predictions that 4G will account for a third of all global mobile connections by 2020 were discussed by panellists at the opening keynote of the Mobile World Congress, here.
The association released the results of a survey that show the number of 4G connections has broken the 1 billion mark, and predicted steady growth in the next four years.
The study calculates that the mobile industry made a $3.1 trillion (€2.8 trillion) contribution to the world economy last year, equivalent to 4.2 per cent of global GDP, Mats Granryd, GSMA director general and moderator of the keynote session, said. That figure is predicted to rise to $3.7 trillion by 2020.
With the theme of this year's MWC 'Mobile is Everything', the industry showed it is contributing to the global economy at a grass roots level, directly and indirectly supported 32 million jobs in 2015 --, which is forecast to rise to 36 million in 2020 --, and contributed $430 billion to public funding in the form of various types of taxation in 2015: a figure expected to grow to $480 billion in 2020.
However, while GSMA figures show that 4G accounted for 1 billion of the 7.3 billion mobile connections in use at the end of 2015 (excluding M2M connections) and that the number of 4G connections doubled in 2015, Granryd noted that around 40 per cent of the world's population is still without access to the internet.
He said the industry needs to be "more innovative, more collaborative, and double our efforts… to be able to connect everyone".
In response, GSMA chairman Jon Fredrik Baksaas, pointed to Telenor's work to connect Myanmar, which went from very low mobile penetration to 60 per cent of the population within 18 months.
"This is incredible," Baksaas told delegates, adding. "people just jumped on these services; it just happened. The attractiveness of these kind of services is there."
Baksaas explained that the increasing richness of mobile services will serve to bring the remaining 40 per cent of unconnected people onto the networks as they become available.
Meanwhile, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao spoke of the Gigabit Society, which he claimed will be "very high speed, very low latency, very high coverage". He explained that the Gigabit Society will save money for all involved, making business more efficient and work more flexible.
Colao cited the New Zealand police force as an example, telling delegates that the force had saved €182 million ($201 million) per annum by digitising its processes. Companies can boost profits by amending employee contracts to enable more flexible working practices, Colao added.
The Vodafone chief concluded that by 2022, the Gigabit Society will create a more "sustainable and fair society for all".
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