GSMA study predicts North American mobile growth

Wednesday, 02 November, 2016

The latest GSMA study indicates that North America’s mobile industry will be worth almost $1 trillion per year by 2020.

The new report, ‘The Mobile Economy: North America 2016’, forecasts that 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities and connected cars will see the industry account for 4.5%, or $1 trillion, of projected regional GDP by the end of the decade. This is an increase of 3.6%.

“Thanks to the billions of dollars of investment made by mobile operators in their networks in recent years, North America is a leader in mobile usage and engagement, characterised by huge levels of mobile data consumption,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA.

“The recent decision in the US to identify and open up spectrum for 5G services — alongside its leadership of the IoT market — has reaffirmed the region as one of the world’s most advanced mobile markets and one that is leading the next wave of mobile innovation.”

North America has high rates of subscriber penetration and a strong uptake of mobile broadband and smartphones. There were 284 million unique mobile subscribers in the region at the end of 2015, which is forecast to increase to 315 million by 2020.

In addition, smartphones account for 75% of the region’s mobile connections — the highest smartphone adoption rate globally — while more than half of connections are running on 4G networks. It is calculated that video streaming over 4G networks will account for more than three quarters of data consumption by 2020.

The mobile industry directly and indirectly supported more than 2.3 million jobs in the region in 2015 and made a tax contribution to the region’s governments of $82 billion. This is in addition to the $46 billion raised via spectrum auctions in the US and Canada during the year.

The report notes that there were more than 60 million cellular M2M connections in North America at the end of 2015, accounting for nearly 15% of total mobile connections and forecast to account for 30% by 2020. IoT devices are also being connected by a range of non-cellular technologies. Operators in the region, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, are adopting the LTE-M standard in order to use existing 4G infrastructure for LPWA services.

Operators, government bodies and other stakeholders are also collaborating to deploy new services to help realise the potential of smart cities in North America, while operators are driving the development of 5G mobile networks and apps. North America’s technology and auto industries are leading the development of connected cars and the autonomous and self-driving car sectors.

“While subscriber and smartphone growth is maturing, North America’s mobile operators are now looking to connect a growing range of other devices — everything from cars to drones and bringing the Internet of Things to life,” said O’Hara.

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