Global mobile users top 5bn for the first time

James Pearce
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GSMA figures show two thirds of the world's population are now using a mobile service

The number of mobile subscribers across the world has topped five billion for the first time, according to the GSMA.

Hitting the five billion mark means that more than two thirds of the global population are currently using a mobile service.

The figure reached four billion in 2013, with more than half of current users (55%) based in the Asia Pacific region, which houses the two largest countries by population, China and India.

China is the world’s biggest market with more than one billion unique mobile subscribers, while India has a user base surpassing 730 million users.

Europe boasts the highest mobile penetration, with 86% of users signed up to a mobile service, compared with sub-Saharan Africa which has the lowest penetration – around 44%.

North America, China and CIS all sit around the 80% penetration mark, with Latin America, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa all making up 9% of the global mobile base.

The GSMA, the industry body for mobile operators, predicts there will be more than 5.7 billion mobile users across the globe by the end of the decade, with India expected to see the greatest growth during this period.

“Reaching the 5 billion subscriber milestone is a tremendous achievement for an industry that is only a few decades old, and reflects the many billions of dollars that mobile operators have invested in networks, services and spectrum over many years,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA.

Subscriber growth opportunities over the coming years will be focused on connecting mainly rural, low-income populations; operators are developing a range of sustainable solutions to deliver affordable connectivity to underserved communities.”