Mobile will empower the next billion internet users: Report

Mobility has fundamentally transformed Internet access and use, and holds the key to fulfilling the promise of Internet connectivity for the next billion people according to the global Internet Society which today released its 2015 Global Internet Report.

The study found that 94 per cent of the global population is covered by a mobile network, 48 per cent are covered by mobile broadband, and 28 per cent have subscribed to mobile Internet services.

CEO of Internet Australia, the local chapter of the society, Laurie Patton said  the trend to mobile is evident here in Australia although perhaps to a lesser extent than in some developing countries.

Among the highlights of the report;

  • The gap between availability and adoption of mobile Internet is due to affordability and lack of relevant content. Policymakers should focus on filling this gap by making the services more affordable by removing taxes on equipment, devices, and services, and eliminating regulatory barriers for operators. Local hosting of content can also help lower costs by avoiding the use of relatively expensive international capacity to access content.
  • As demand increases, governments will need to ensure an adequate allocation of spectrum for mobile Internet use.
  • More than 80 per cent of online time on mobile is spent on apps, as opposed to a browser. Even adding in desktop browsing, users spend more than 50 per cent of overall online time using mobile apps.
  • Smart devices provide many useful services and features, such as location awareness and cameras; however these offerings raise increased privacy issues.
  • Usage of the mobile Internet depends on wireless interfaces and access to apps, which can lead to heightened security concerns.
  • An increasing reliance on mobile apps, combined with those apps being native to a particular proprietary mobile platform, raises the cost of creating apps for each platform, the cost for users switching between platforms, and thereby limits platform competition.
  • The web app environment enables developers to create websites with advanced features that can be installed on a mobile device with an icon similar to existing apps. Developers can create one web app for all platforms – consumers can easily move between platforms the way they switch browsers today – and new platforms can enter and compete on more of an even ground.

“Just as there is a whole generation of Australians who see no need for a landline telephone the portability of the Internet via mobile is also becoming a compelling preference for many,” said Patton.

As the demand for mobile Internet increases there will be greater pressure on governments to free-up spectrum he argued.

“There will also be an opportunity for innovative apps and this is an area where Australia should aim to be a leader rather than a follower”.

Last week Internet Australia promoted the idea of a government supported Digital Future Forum. 

“The idea is to get a range of representative organisations together with the Government and the Opposition and create a bipartisan strategic plan. The outcome would be a broad set of policy settings that are long term and agreed between all the parties. To achieve our potential as a digitally enabled economy we need a road map and consensus among all parties on the direction we should take,” he said.

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