Broadband developments strongly indicate that the future major media platform will be Internet
In 2025 it is predicted that all young people and adults in the world will own a smartphone, which will replace other devices as stand-alone radio- and tv-receivers. This will have a heavy impact on the media industry.
According to the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development ‘State of Broadband’ report that although strong growth rates continue for mobile broadband and Facebook usage, and mobile cellular subscriptions now exceeded 7 billion.
Among the findings in the report:
By end 2015, some 3.2 billion people will be online, equating to over 43.4% of the total world population, and up from 2.9 billion a year earlier (almost 40.6% of the population).
In the developing world, Internet penetration will surpass 35.3% by the end of 2015; penetration will still be under 10% in the UN-designated Least Developed Countries, however.
Even though Internet penetration is approaching saturation in the developed world, with 82.2% of the population online, the global target of 60% set by the Broadband Commission in 2011, to be achieved by 2015, is unlikely to be achieved before 2021 at the earliest.
Internet user penetration in the developing world is unlikely to achieve the Broadband Commission target of 50% before 2020. By the end of 2015, there will still be 57% of the world’s population – or four billion people – still offline.
Household Internet access in developed countries is close to saturation, with more than 81.3% of households connected. The proportion of households in the developing world with Internet access has increased from 31.5% at the end of 2014 to over 34.1% a year later.
The mobile industry is growing strongly, but unevenly. ITU forecasts that the milestone of seven billion mobile cellular subscriptions will be exceeded by end 2015, equivalent to a global penetration rate of 97 subscriptions per 100 people.
ITU also estimates that there will be a total of almost 3.5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions by end 2015. Industry analysts predict 6.5 billion mobile broadband (3G/4G/5G) subscriptions by 2019, making mobile broadband the fastest growing ICT service in history.
Asia-Pacific now accounts for half of all mobile broadband subscriptions, up from just under 45% at the end of 2014. In January 2015, China Mobile became the world’s largest mobile operator by number of subscribers.
Smartphones now dominate the mobile device market, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Ericsson forecasts that the number of smartphones in service could exceed ‘basic’ phones by 2016. While developed markets become saturated in terms of total mobile penetration, analysts still see plenty of room for growth, with only an estimated one third of all mobile subscriptions currently associated with a smartphone.
Broadband is becoming more affordable: Since in 2010 fixed broadband prices as a share of GNI per capita have dropped by 65% on average worldwide.
The telecoms industry continues to grow strongly in terms of penetration and uptake. According to IDC, the sector was worth an estimated US$1.67 trillion at end 2013, and is growing by 1-2% per year, driven mainly by China and emerging markets.
Broadband growth is not consistent across regions or across technologies – for example, in Europe, some incumbent telcos are seeing revenues decline, while cable operators and ‘altnets’ are being helped by TV revenue growth (cable) or more agile business models linked to their smaller size (altnets).
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is growing fast, with Deloitte predicting that one billion IoT devices will be shipped in 2015, up 60% on 2014 figures. ITU forecasts 25 billion networked devices by 2020 – meaning connected devices could outnumber connected people by 6:1.
For every person connecting to the Internet over the next five years, ten as many times devices will connect. Indeed, some industry observers are concerned that the Internet of Things may open up a new digital divide in terms of access and use of connected devices.