The GSMA (News - Alert) recently unveiled the results of its multiyear study, which aims to determine not only the number of global active mobile connections, but also the number of unique users subscribed to mobile services. First, the big number: the study states that by Q4 2012, there are to be 6.8 billion total global connections. This number includes machine-to-machine (M2M) connections. Leaving M2M and inactive SIM cards aside, the number drops to a still ridiculous 5.9 billion.
With all these active connections, it's fair to assume that the number of unique users is just as high, but actually, the GSMA study states there are only 3.2 billion unique users, representing about 45 percent of the world's population. Obviously, this number is still huge, but left to estimate based solely on the total number of worldwide connections, many have predicted more unique users.
What this figure does tell us is that those who are connected are very connected as the global average for active SIMs is 1.85.
"This research, for the first time, highlights the difference between mobile connections and individual mobile subscribers, and points to a significant growth opportunity for the mobile industry as we continue to connect the world's population," said Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA. "By identifying inactive SIMs and multiple SIM ownership, we have developed the most accurate measurement of the global mobile subscriber base, which shows that only 45 per cent of the world's population has subscribed to mobile services."
The study also states that Europe has the highest mobile penetration in the world, with countries such as Denmark, Finland, Germany and the U.K. averaging around 90 percent in terms of subscriber penetration. Africa, meanwhile, has the lowest penetration, with only one third of the people in the region subscribing to mobile services in 2012. This figure is expected to grow to 40 percent by 2017.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey