A new report reveals that as mobile broadband penetration increases by 10%, it causes a 0,6% to 2,8% rise in GDP – that translates to the equivalent of about $500-billion to $2-trillion worldwide in 2016.
Entitled ‘How Important Are Mobile Broadband Networks for Global Economic Development?’, the report was compiled by Ericsson Research and the Imperial College of London and examines data from 135 countries.
Previous reports have examined fixed broadband, and researchers have only been able to estimate its effect on economic growth. This study, on the other hand, has been able to conclude that the introduction of mobile broadband has an immediate positive effect on a country’s economy, and a longer-term knock-on effect as mobile broadband gradually spreads to different economies.
Harald Edquist, Master Researcher in Macroeconomics at Ericsson Research and one of the report authors, says: “Many countries in the developing world have used mobile broadband technology to leapfrog in their economic development in the past 10 to15 years. I believe that if these countries, and others, continue to invest wisely in mobile broadband, they will have an excellent opportunity to continue to reap the benefits of continuous productivity improvements and new economic opportunities that simply would not be possible without mobile broadband.”
Mobile broadband networks have spread rapidly, and are set to continue doing so. The Ericsson Mobility Report (June 2017), states that at the end of 2016, around 3,2-billion subscribers (out of the world’s total population of 7,4-billion) had access to the Internet via mobile broadband technology. It is forecast that an additional 2,6-billion subscribers will have mobile broadband Internet access by 2022.
A GSMA study shows that in Africa, limited network coverage remains a key barrier to mobile Internet adoption. Presently, mobile broadband networks cover around 50% of the population, meaning that 600-million people in the region do not have access to a mobile broadband service.
To ensure efficient mobile broadband adoption, stable and efficient policies and regulations are essential for mobile operators to have the best conditions to roll out mobile broadband networks in underserved areas. Private investment depends heavily on the regulatory climate.
The findings from the reports served as the backbone of discussions during UN Week in New York, where Ericsson participated in discussions with global stakeholders, including the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, about the world economy and the beneficial role that ICT can play in development.

Edquist continues: “We have always challenged traditional ways of thinking. Being true to our company purpose of innovating technology for good and creating new economic opportunities we make life better, whether through connecting people in new ways, building technologies for industries in transformation or creating a more inclusive society. This is set to continue as we enter an era of 5G, IoT and cloud network infrastructure.”