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The GSM Association (GSMA) on Wednesday said that the “mobile world” has celebrated its four billionth connection, according to Wireless Intelligence, the GSMA’s market intelligence unit. This milestone underscores the continued strong growth of the mobile industry and puts the global market on the path to reach a staggering six billion connections by 2013. At press time the world population was approximately 6.759 billion, according to the world population clock.

The growth is driven by two primary sources: the integration of mobile into previously unconnected devices and subscriber additions in emerging markets. At Mobile World Congress taking place from 16th - 19th February in Barcelona, the industry will be exploring ways of sustaining this growth.

“As we enter 2009, the world is in the midst of a broad economic slowdown, one that is impacting every facet of business, every link in the communications value chain. To address the significant challenges facing the global economy, the GSMA and its membership are focused on leveraging mobility to create new opportunities and to drive productivity and prosperity,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer of the GSMA.

The GSMA’s Mobile Planet initiatives leverage mobility to help improve the lives of individuals across the developing world in a socially responsible manner. With countries like India adding 10 million new mobile connections per month, and many users accessing the Internet, email and banking exclusively via mobile devices, the developing world is central to mobile industry growth.

The GSMA’s Mobile Lifestyle initiatives concentrate on the cross-industry creation of innovative services that combine web attributes with mobility to make services, such as banking or entertainment, far more compelling.

The GSMA’s Mobile Broadband initiatives focus on the development of a ubiquitous Mobile Broadband infrastructure and the proliferation of Internet-connected mobile devices. With the world’s mobile connections now numbering four billion – nearly 100 million of which are Mobile Broadband – and with 1.1 billion fixed broadband lines reaching only one sixth of the world’s population, the opportunities are vast.

As grid electricity is inaccessible to many emerging market areas, Mobile World Congress will be exploring the use of renewable energy. The GSMA’s Development Fund, that facilitates the delivery of mobile offerings to people living on less than $2 per day, will be presenting the Green Power Pavilion where leading green technology providers will meet with operators. The “Green Power for Mobile” seminar on Wednesday 18th February will explore the role of renewable energy in expanding off-grid network coverage and reducing operating expedentures.

“GSMA industry initiatives in the areas of mobile broadband, mobile lifestyle and mobile planet will help drive the innovation and growth despite the challenges of the global economic downturn,” Mr. O’Hara added.

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