There are more than four billion people who still don’t have access to the Internet via mobile, unlike the three billion already enjoying access.
The GSMA says those “offline” citizens are excluded from the “powerful opportunities for social and economic development that the mobile Internet enables”.
According to Mats Granryd, director-general of the GSMA, mobile is the primary enabler of connectivity in developing world markets where the high cost of deploying fixed-line networks means that Internet penetration is low.
“The launch of the GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index will provide valuable insights that will inform projects designed to support the ambition of universal access to the Internet.”
According to GSMA Intelligence, the approximately 3.2 billion people accessing the mobile Internet at the end of 2015 represented about 44% of the global population and among these users, about a third were using 2G networks and two-thirds were using mobile broadband (3G/4G).
This leaves approximately 4.16 billion people, about 56% of the global population, still not on the mobile Internet. Among this segment, 2.5 billion people — 34% of the global population — live within the footprint of a mobile broadband network but do not access services, while approximately 1.6 billion (22% ) live outside of a mobile broadband network footprint.
The GSMA says its Mobile Connectivity Index measures the performance of 134 countries, representing more than 95% of the world’s population, against the four key enablers that are essential to driving mobile Internet adoption:
• Infrastructure – the availability and quality of high performance mobile Internet network coverage. Without network coverage, people cannot get online, and without high-performing networks it is more difficult to access the full potential of the Internet.
• Affordability – the availability of mobile services and devices at price points that reflect the level of income across a national population. Aside from prices and incomes, affordability is also affected by the level of taxation, as well as inequality – if income distribution is skewed towards a small proportion of the population, the mobile internet will remain unaffordable for many people.
• Consumer readiness – citizens with the awareness and skills needed to value and use the Internet. Without the necessary skills and supporting cultural environment, individuals may not understand how to use the mobile Internet or appreciate how it can benefit them. Some individuals, especially women, might also find themselves prevented from accessing the mobile Internet in some countries.
• Content – the availability of online content and services that are accessible and relevant to the local population. Consumers are less likely to connect to the mobile Internet unless there is online content and services that are relevant and would be of benefit to them. This might be as simple as having content in their native language or it might be the availability of certain apps or services such as social media, banking or education.
Granryd says scores for each of the four key enablers — to be updated on an annual basis — are available for each country and are combined to produce a single composite measure for a given country, reflecting the strength of the foundations to support widespread adoption of the mobile Internet.
The Mobile Connectivity Index is accessible through a freely available Web-based interface that allows users to explore in detail the performance of individual countries, compare countries against each other, and investigate the different dimensions and indicators that feed into each of the enablers.
To access the tool click here.