New data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released on Friday (Feb. 9) found an unprecedented number of mobile broadband subscriptions in 2017.
According to Reuters reports, the OECD found that, for the first time, the number of those mobile data plans outnumbered the number of residents in developed nations. Analysts attributed the rise to more affordable subscription plans, as well as an increase in regulation and competition in the market.
The OECD found 1.31 billion mobile broadband subscriptions as of June 2017. The population in these markets – which includes the OECD's 35 member states across North and South America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East – was 1.28 billion at the time. Reuters noted, however, that the information does not provide enough context to calculate the percentage of a market's population that has a mobile subscription, as some individuals have more than one plan. The data, obtained from governments and telecom companies, also does not provide information about how these subscriptions are used.
Poland saw a 33 percent increase in mobile subscriptions between 2014 and 2017, the fastest growth rate of any market analyzed. That's followed by Chile's 24 percent growth, while Slovenia, Austria and Turkey all saw growth rates above 20 percent, too.
The OECD's report pointed to an average 42 percent reduction in the cost for mobile operators to connect calls from their network to another company's network. Those savings were passed on to consumers and likely contributed to the increase in mobile subscriptions.
Price drops were steepest in Mexico, followed by Hungary and Ireland, the report found.
The rise in mobile subscriptions can be identified in other trends.
Data from Salesforce's fourth-quarter shopping index released earlier this month found mobile traffic for online shopping rose 60 percent in the last three months of 2017, and mobile orders hit 39 percent. Computer traffic declined 33 percent and orders from computers dropped 51 percent.
"Mobile is on the cusp of becoming not only [the] biggest traffic driver to retail sites, but also the biggest avenue for placing orders," said Salesforce Commerce Cloud senior industry strategist Caila Schwartz in a statement at the time. "The growth values are even more staggering – all of the growth in traffic and orders came from mobile.”