Mobile Industry to Add $1 Trillion in Value to North American Economy by 2020, Finds New GSMA Study
North America’s mobile industry will be worth almost $1 trillion a year to the region’s economy by 2020, according to a new GSMA study. The new report, ‘The Mobile Economy: North America 2016’, forecasts that the North America region’s pioneering role in areas such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities and connected cars will see the industry account for 4.5 per cent ($1 trillion) of projected regional GDP by the end of the decade, up from 3.6 per cent ($710 billion) last year. The report was published at the ‘GSMA Mobility Live! – North America’ event being held in Atlanta on 1-2 November, co-hosted with the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
“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.”
Strong Smartphone and 4G Adoption Fuelling Mobile Data Explosion
North America is one of the most mature mobile markets in the world, reflected in its high rates of subscriber penetration and strong uptake of mobile broadband and smartphones. There were 284 million unique mobile subscribers1 in the region at the end of 2015 (equivalent to 79 per cent of the population), a figure forecast to increase to 315 million (85 per cent of the population) by 2020.
Smartphones account for 75 per cent of the region’s mobile connections2 , the highest smartphone adoption rate globally, while more than half of connections are running on 4G networks. This situation is fuelling huge data usage growth, mainly due to video services. It is calculated that video streaming over 4G networks will account for more than three quarters of data consumption by 2020. Cisco projects that by the end of the decade data usage per subscriber in North America will reach almost 9 GB per month, up from about 2 GB per subscriber per month in 2015.
A Growing Contributor to the North America Economy
North America’s mobile industry made a total contribution of $710 billion to the North
America economy in value-added terms last year, equivalent to 3.6 per cent of the region’s annual GDP3 . By 2020 this figure is expected to increase to almost $1 trillion (4.5 per cent of GDP), as the region experiences strong growth in productivity brought about by the rapid adoption of new mobile technologies – such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications – and the increased digitisation of industry and services.
The industry also 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.
Operators Bringing the Internet of Things to Life
The report highlights a number of areas where the North America region is driving mobile innovation, particularly in the Internet of Things. It notes that there were more than 60 million cellular M2M connections in the region at the end of 2015, accounting for nearly 15 percent of total mobile connections and forecast to account for 30 per cent by 2020. IoT devices are also being connected by a range of non-cellular technologies; new low-power wide area (LPWA) networks, for example, are being deployed in North America, using both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. 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 a range of other players 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 also 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,” added O’Hara. “The region is home to many of the most innovative companies in the broader mobile ecosystem and venture capital flows into the mobile sector continue to show healthy growth. The industry has also benefited from a generally supportive regulatory environment as evidenced by efforts to agree standards and facilitate the first wave of 5G deployments.”
The new report ‘The Mobile Economy: North America 2016’ is authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA. To access the full report and related infographics, please visit: http://www.gsma.com/mobileeconomy/northamerica/
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences.
1 A unique mobile subscriber represents an individual that can account for multiple mobile connections (SIM cards)
2 A mobile connection refers to an active SIM card registered with a mobile network, excluding M2M connections. The total number of mobile connections in North America stood at 371 million in 2015 and is forecast to rise to 414 million by 2020. A smartphone connection is defined as a SIM card registered and used in a smartphone device at the end of the period. It does not represent the number of smartphone devices sold or shipped.
3 GDP total comprises direct impact (1.2%); related industries (0.7%); and productivity impact (1.7%)
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