AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The number of connections on mobile phone networks has crossed the 4 billion mark worldwide, industry association GSMA said on Wednesday, forecasting further growth to 6 billion by 2013.
The number of connections does not translate directly into the number of users, however, because in many mature markets, one user may have two mobile phones, or a phone and a mobile data device, which would both count as two connections.
In Western Europe, about a fifth of connections are estimated to be due to one user having more than one device, a figure that probably applies to many developed markets, a GSMA spokesman said.
In developing countries, by contrast, phones are often shared.
In the run-up to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona — the wireless industry’s biggest trade show which starts next Monday — the GSMA said some 100 million connections were “mobile broadband” connections. This refers to mobile data connections using the high-speed HSPA standard.
The figure reflects the popularity of “dongles” which connect laptops to the Internet via mobile phone networks, as well as phones with high-speed data connections made by Nokia or HTC or the latest version of Apple’s iPhone.
Reporting by Niclas Mika; Editing by David Holmes