The Mobile Economy 2018 | GSMA

Mobile | Global

Mobile has a greater reach than any other technology, with over 5 billion people were connected to mobile services in 2017. The number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide is expected to reach 5.9 billion by 2025, equivalent to 71% of the world’s population. Mobile internet adoption will increasingly become the key metric, with 3.3 billion mobile internet users in 2017 and the number is expected to hit the 5 billion by 2025.

Mobile Industry Worldwide – An Overview

  • In 2017, 3.7 billion out of 5 billion people connected to mobile services were in the developing markets.
  • The mobile subscriber penetration accounted for 66% in 2017 and will reach 71% in 2025.
  • The unique mobile subscriber penetration reached its peak in Europe (85%), North America (84%) and CIS region (80%).
  • At the countries level, Russia has the highest mobile penetration (90%), followed by the US (86%) and China (85%).
  • In terms of smartphone adaption, it’s expected to grow by 20% points globally between 2017 and 2025, and there will be 77% of mobile connections will be operated on smartphones.
  • Just 29% of connections in 2017 were on 4G, but by 2019 4G will become the lead mobile network technology in 2019 (at more than 3 billion).
  • 5G adoption will also hold 1.2 billion, equivalent to 14% of the world’s connections.
  • The number of IoT connections will increase more than threefold worldwide between 2017 and 2025, reaching 25 billion.

A Map Shows the Unique Mobile Subscriber Penetration (2017-2025)


The GSM Association is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Approximately 800 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators; and 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media organizations.


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