The Smartphone Takeover - GSMA's 4.3 Billion Milestone | Exhibit Tech Tech News
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The Smartphone Takeover – GSMA’s 4.3 Billion Milestone

The charming pages of the GSM Association’s Mobile Internet Connectivity Report for 2023 unfurls a resounding 4.3 billion individuals, a commanding 55% of our planet’s population, now cradle smartphones in their palms, traversing the digital landscape. The data echoes the footsteps of 4.6 billion mobile internet users, and an impressive four billion of them dance to the rhythm of this digital symphony through the screens of their smartphones.

Yet, amid this spectacular global embrace of the digital age, the GSMA’s report paints a picture of contrasting landscapes. In North America, East Asia, and the Pacific, a remarkable 69% of smartphone owners wield 4G-enabled devices, while in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, the majority of users still tether their digital aspirations to steadfast 3G connectivity. It’s a tapestry of access where the digital divide persists as a prominent thread.

This surge in mobile internet usage doesn’t come as a surprise, but it’s crucial to note that approximately 3.4 billion souls remain unconnected, yearning for their digital awakening. GSMA’s discerning eye spots a global quirk: 38% of the world’s population resides in areas graced with mobile broadband but chooses not to partake in the digital feast. The connectivity chasm yawns wider in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where 59% and 52% of the population have yet to set sail on the digital ocean.

A striking revelation from the report highlights the 600 million souls, a solid 8% of humanity, who still navigate the digital realm through the portals of feature phones, as if tethered to a bygone era. In this era of endless digital possibilities, the barriers that impede further expansion of this digital voyage include the challenges of digital skills, literacy, safety concerns, and the scarcity of pertinent content – all acting as invisible dams restraining the full potential of smartphone users.

As Mats Granryd, the visionary Director General of GSMA, boldly states, the deprivation of connectivity casts a long shadow, darkening the doors of billions and blocking access to vital services and pathways to economic prosperity. The impact is uneven, affecting the marginalized, the less educated, rural communities, and women with unequal force.

With the looming spectres of a cost-of-living crisis and the surge in climate-related emergencies, Mats Granryd raises a clarion call, urging the world to unite in accelerating digital inclusion, demolishing barriers, and halting the digital divide’s relentless expansion. The symphony of the digital age beckons all to partake, offering the promise of empowerment, equality, and enlightenment to all who heed its call.


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