IDC predicts that more than 2 billion people across the globe will have access to the Internet via a mobile device next year, accounting for well over half of the 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide in 2016.
The research company said the total number of mobile Internet users is forecast to rise at a pace of 2 per cent annually through 2020, while the number of people accessing the Internet exclusively via a mobile device will increase by 25 per cent a year over the next five years.
However, IDC noted that this might change if new methods of accessing the Internet are successfully introduced.
For example, Google, SpaceX and Facebook are among some of the companies that plan to make the Internet available to the other 4 billion people on the planet via high-altitude planes, balloons and satellites.
Indeed only this week Google reached an agreement in principle with the Indian government and local operator BSNL for the launch in India of Project Loon, which aims to use balloons as a type of floating mobile tower, The Financial Express reported. However, Indian telecoms minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he would first consult the ministry of civil aviation and security agencies over fears of interference and other technical issues.
IDC said it remains unclear how successful endeavours such as these would be and when they would be operational at scale.
Scott Strawn, programme director, strategic advisory service at IDC, also noted that as the number of people accessing the Internet via a mobile device rises, the amount of time spent on such devices will also continue to grow.
"This change in the way we access the Internet is fuelling explosive growth in mobile commerce and mobile advertising," Strawn added, noting that advertisers are shifting their spending accordingly as they recognise that people are increasingly spending more time and money online using mobile devices.
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