Smartphones driving web connections in Latin America

  • AFP
  • Updated: Nov 26, 2014 11:14 IST

Mobile has overtaken fixed broadband as the consumers’ choice for accessing the web.

According to the latest GSMA report into the region -- ‘The Mobile Economy: Latin America 2014' -- there are already 718 million mobile connections in Latin America and that number is expected to have swollen to 956 million by the end of the decade.

Latin America is shaping up to be of the world's fastest growing regions for smartphone connections. Between 2010 and 2013 smartphone ownership grew 77% a year. By 2020 it will be second only to Asia Pacific when it comes to active smartphones in use.

Brazil is leading the charge. The biggest country in Latin America in terms of internet and smartphone penetration, its consumers are already embracing the smartphone as a means of getting online quickly particularly in remote or underserved areas where a fixed internet connection is little more than a concept.

Mobile broadband connections -- via handsets or dongles -- now outstrip fixed broadband connections by five to one and now account for the primary means of accessing the web.

But as well as mobile devices, this year's report notes that there are a growing number of M2M connections, what the telecommunications industry calls Internet of Things devices connected via a SIM card and cellular network rather than piggybacking on a home or office's wi-fi system.

As of September 2014, there were 16 million M2M connections in Latin America and that figure is now forecast to grow at 25% per year, hitting 66 million connections by the end of the decade as cars, homes, and pieces of inner-city infrastructure get connected and grow smarter.

"We are seeing a rapid technology migration in Latin America, which is proving to be a catalyst for new products and services that are playing key a role in addressing many of the region's social, economic and public services challenges, including enabling financial and digital inclusion," said Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA. "The increasing adoption of smartphones -- alongside expanding mobile broadband coverage -- is unlocking new business opportunities for all players within the mobile value chain, as well as enabling millions of people to connect to the mobile internet."

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