The GSMA found the number of people living without mobile coverage dropped to 400 million by end-2022 from 1.8 billion in 2015.
During the event M360 APAC in Seoul, GSMA director general Mats Granryd highlighted the tremendous innovation generated by the host country South Korea, and the thriving technology companies based here, which have worked together to make the capital city Seoul a global role model. He noted Seoul transformed itself into one of the most advanced cities in the world in just a few decades.
Granryd went beyond the standard definition of innovation, emphasizing that for him, it is about believing deeply in something, having the passion to keep going, solving real problems, and finding ways to make the world a better place. “Innovation is part of the mobile industry’s DNA and the driving force behind everything we do,” he added. Granryd urged the industry to continue to innovate and dream together for an open, secure, and connected future for all.
The industry’s latest major innovation, 5G, racked up 1 billion connections by the end of 2022, with more than 230 mobile operators in some 90 markets launching commercial services. This year, the GSMA expects launches in 30 new markets. Asia Pacific is one of the fastest-growing 5G adopters in the world and is expected to be home to 1.4 billion connections by 2030.
Innovation requires investment, Granryd said, with mobile operators in Asia Pacific forecast to spend almost $260 billion on network upgrades over the next eight years, most of the figure going to 5G. The industry is exploring innovative financial models to ensure it can achieve this target, Granryd stated. Despite 96% of people living in Asia Pacific being covered by a mobile broadband network, less than half still do not subscribe to mobile internet.
“The usage gap is one of the biggest challenges we as an industry are committed to overcoming,” Granryd said, highlighting work by governments and operators to address the problem. He argued the whole ecosystem must work together to eliminate affordability barriers, improve digital literacy and skills, and create relevant content in local languages to ensure everyone can safely access mobile internet.