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Business News of Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Source: B&FT

Mobile data to overtake voice in 5 years

The GSM Association (GSMA) has predicted that mobile operators will make more money from data from voice by 2018.

The prediction falls in line with local operator’s decision to align their services toward enhancing user experience in data services, which has helped to increase mobile broadband penetration in the country by more than three-fold to 23% within 12 months.

According to GSMA, which represents mobile operators and related companies devoted to supporting the standardising, development and promotion of the GSM mobile telephone system, the surge in connected devices and the growth of machine-to-machine communications are creating huge damage.

Currently, fixed (wired)-broadband penetration remains marginal; but mobile broadband took off with a remarkable surge in penetration from seven percent in 2010 to 23 per cent in 2011, which is comparable to that of many developed countries.

This makes Ghana the country with the highest mobile-broadband penetration in Africa.

In the latest GSMA report, it lays out some of the ways that mobile is transforming lives, particularly in the developing world.

“Mobile health services could help save one million lives in Africa,” it said. The five-year forecasts were released to coincide with Mobile World Congress- the association’s annual tech event in Barcelona.

The fight against deadly diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and the ongoing fight against HIV will increasingly be helped by the greater use of mobile connectivity, according to the report.

Some 240 tonnes food spoils during transit and in storage every year, but using mobile to track and monitor the temperature of storage facilities could save enough food to feed 40 million people in 2017- equivalent to the entire population of Kenya, it said.

Meanwhile, the use of mobile handsets, e-readers and tablets could put 1.8 million more children in education by 2017, it suggested.

“Mobile data is just not a commodity, it becoming lifeblood of our daily lives, society and economy, with more and more connected people and things,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at GSMA.

The association predicted that the US and UK will see data revenue exceeding voice by 2014.

Argentina will get there even earlier, it said, reaching the milestone in 2013; while Kenya, one of Africa’s connected countries, will hit the target in 2016.

It is not just the developing world that will benefit. It predicted that mobile health services will shave US$400bn (£265m) off the OECD countries’ annual healthcare bill by 2017.

It added that connected cars could save one in nine lives through emergency calling services, and smart metering could cut carbon emissions by 27 million tonnes the equivalent of planting 1.2 billion trees.

GSMA’s members benefit from it publicising the benefits of their creations.

However, the wider mobile phone industry has also faced criticism in the past about pollution caused by toxic substances which can leak from some devices if they damped in landfill sites, and evidence that some manufacturers have employed underage workers.