5 billion mobile phone users in 2017: GSMA

Around 2,250 companies are participating in the Mobile World Congress underway in Barcelona, Spain. More than 150,000 visitors from all across the world are expected to attend the four-day exhibition. (AN photo)
Updated 28 February 2017

5 billion mobile phone users in 2017: GSMA

BARCELONA: The number of mobile phone users globally will surpass 5 billion by June, according to a study released by Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA).
With populations in Asia, and notably India, on the rise, the number, which stood at 4.8 billion a year ago, should mushroom to 5.7 billion, or three quarters of the world’s population, by 2020.
Asia will account for around half total growth, according to GSMA’s “Mobile Economy” report with India alone adding some 310 million new subscribers in the coming three years.
The release of the study coincides with the Mobile World Congress, the third-largest technology conference in the world, which kicked off in Barcelona, Spain on Monday. Around 2,250 companies are participating in the event and more than 150,000 visitors from all across the world are expected to attend the four-day exhibition.
Several mobile companies such as Huawei, Sony, LG, ZTE, BlackBerry and Samsung launched their new products to coincide with the opening of the event.
“Mobile is a global platform that today supports two-thirds of the world’s population, delivering the connectivity and infrastructure that is powering new digital economies and addressing socio-economic challenges,” said Mats Granryd, GSMA director-general.
“Our latest report reveals how the near ubiquity of smartphones and high-speed connectivity is enabling innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and driving the digital transformation,” added Granryd, citing trillion-dollar investment in global networks since 2010.
That investment had seen the telecoms sector account for a 4.4 percent share of world GDP worth $3.3 trillion dollars last year, rising to a 4.9 percent share by 2020, for economic value equivalent to $4.2 trillion.
The report said the mobile ecosystem last year employed 28.5 million people directly or indirectly — a figure it said would rise to 30.9 million by 2020.
It added the sector would contribute $500 billion in tax receipts by 2020, up from $450 billion last year, not including revenue from spectrum auctions, worth almost $19 billion in 2016.
Operators are forecast to invest a further $700 billion by 2020 when 5G connectivity is set to bring ever-faster data connection.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, said: “As culture and technology continue to intersect in every aspect of our world, we want to deliver new products and experiences that ultimately improve and enhance life.”
The main highlight of the event is the launch of the revamped version of Nokia’s iconic 3310 model, more than a decade after it was phased out.
“We are starting the next chapter for Nokia. Users will find the true Nokia brand’s attitudes such as reliability, simplicity, ease of use, human touch and quality in our devices,” said Arto Nummela, CEO of HMD Global.
During a conference held on the sidelines of the event, Keeper Security Inc., the world’s leading password manager and secure digital vault, announced the results of a survey analyzing mobile-device usage and security. Sponsored by Keeper Security, the study found that nearly 60 percent of mobile users have had to reset a password in the past two months. Respondents were two times more likely to have trouble logging into an account if they wrote their passwords down or tried to memorize them.
An alarming statistic found that 87 percent of mobile users between the ages of 18-30 reuse passwords across multiple websites and applications. This bad habit could result in millions of accounts being compromised since hackers typically test a stolen password against multiple accounts including banking, retail, social media, e-mail and health care websites.
According to the GSMA report, 2016 saw 580 4G networks launched in 188 countries covering 60 percent of the world population.
The organization added 55 percent of overall connections were now running on mobile broadband (3G/4G) networks, which are forecast to account for almost three-quarters of connections by 2020.

— With input from AFP


OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10M barrel cut by a month

Updated 6 min 6 sec ago

OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10M barrel cut by a month

  • The meeting, originally scheduled for next week, was brought forward to Saturday

VIENNA: OPEC and allied nations agreed on Saturday to extend a production cut of nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day through the end of July, hoping to boost energy prices hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ministers of the group and outside nations like Russia met via video conference to adopt the measure, aimed at cutting out the excess production depressing prices as global aviation remains largely grounded due to the pandemic. It represents some 10% of the world's overall supply.
However, danger still lurks for the market. Algerian Oil Minister Mohamed Arkab, the current OPEC president, warned attendees that the global oil inventory would soar to 1.5 billion barrels by the mid-point of this year.
“Despite the progress to date, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” Arkab said. “The challenges we face remain daunting.”
That was a message echoed by Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Abdul Aziz bin Salman, who acknowledged “we all have made sacrifices to make it where we are today.” He said he remained shocked by the day in April when U.S. oil futures plunged below zero.
“There are encouraging signs we are over the worst,” he said.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak similarly called April “the worst month in history” for the global oil market.
The decision came in a unanimous vote, Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei of the United Arab Emirates wrote on Twitter. He called it “a courageous decision and a collective effort deserving praise from all participating producing countries.”
OPEC has 13 member states, including Saudi Arabia. The additional countries part of the plus-accord have been led by Russia, with Mexico under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador playing a considerable role at the last minute in the initial agreement.
Crude oil prices have been gaining in recent days, in part on hopes OPEC would continue the cut. International benchmark Brent crude traded Saturday at over $42 a barrel. Brent had crashed below $20 a barrel in April.
The oil market was already oversupplied when Russia and OPEC failed to agree on output cuts in early March. Analysts say Russia refused to back even a moderate cut because it would have only served to help US energy companies that were pumping at full capacity. Stalling would hurt American shale-oil producers and protect market share.
Prices collapsed as the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes largely halted global travel. That also hurt US shale production, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump. But Trump welcomed the earlier deal, as US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette did on Saturday with the extension.
“I applaud OPEC-plus for reaching an important agreement today which comes at a pivotal time as oil demand continues to recover and economies reopen around the world,” Brouillette wrote on Twitter.
Under a deal reached in April, OPEC and allied countries were to cut nearly 10 million barrels per day until July, then 8 million barrels per day through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021.
However, some countries produced beyond their quotas set by the deal. One of them was Iraq, which remains decimated after the yearslong war against the Islamic State group.
On Saturday, Iraq Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said in statement that Baghdad had “renewed its full commitment” to the OPEC+ deal.
“Despite the economic and financial circumstances that Iraq is facing, the country remains committed to the agreement," Jihad said.
Analysts had expected OPEC and the other nations to extend the cuts of 10 million barrels per day by one more month, but not longer, since the level of demand is still fluctuating.
“If the demand is great, countries like Russia will want to produce more oil, so they probably won’t want to get locked into a longer-term deal that may not help them,” said Jacques Rousseau, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners.