The proliferation and adoption of mobile phones is having a tangible and measurable impact on the growth of many of the world’s national and regional economies. These devices are the lever that is lifting the world.
A new study estimates that a doubling of mobile data use leads to an increase of 0.5 percentage points in the GDP per capita growth rate across selected 14 countries, and that countries with higher level of data usage per 3G connections have seen increases in GDP per capita growth exceeding a percentage point.
These findings come from an assessment just released by the GSM Association and Deloitte, which looked at the incremental benefits of next-generation mobile telephony services, such as 3G technology and mobile data services, and their impact on economic growth. “Mobile services have the potential to impact economic development further through the provision of high-value 3G and 4G data services accessed via smartphones, tablets and dongles that deliver mobile data services to businesses and consumers,” the report states.
The report draws from research of data usage and economic growth across 14 countries provided by Cisco Systems based on their Visual Networking Index (VNI), as well as Deloitte studies on the productivity impact of mobile in 79 countries and the impact of 3G penetration across 96 countries.
The study’s authors conclude that every incremental increase in mobile device adoption directly translates into increased GDP. A 10% rise from 2G to 3G penetration increases GDP per capita growth by 0.15 percentage points. In developing markets, a 10% expansion in mobile penetration increases productivity by 4.2 percentage points.
The increase in 3G connections, supported by the proliferation of data-enabled devices that allow mobile Internet connectivity, has led to a massive growth in the use of mobile data. Total mobile data usage has more than doubled on average every year from 2005 to 2010 in each of the 96 countries in the sample. In the United States, this growth was 400%; in Western European countries, it grew by 350%.
In developed countries, the adoption of mobile technologies increases workers’ and professionals’ productivity, enabling faster access to information when it is needed. In developing countries, mobile technology opens up new economic opportunities — such as the ability for people to better communicate, as well as participate in “micro-tasking” projects.
(Photo: GSM Association.)