Industry association GSMA flagged handset and tariff affordability as the top barriers preventing millions of people around the globe from accessing the mobile internet, pointing to digital literacy and app accessibility as other key challenges.
Head of GSMA’s Connected Women, Connected Society and Assistive Tech programmes, Claire Sibthorpe said while the cost of mobile devices and data plans dropped over the past year, both remain an issue for consumers in low- and middle-income countries.
She noted tariff prices in “more than half” of countries in this category haven’t yet reached a target set by the International Telecommunication Union’s Broadband Commission in January 2018, stating service should cost less than 2 per cent of monthly income per capita.
Even among those who may be able to afford a device and data, Sibthorpe said many lack the “digital skills to be able to access and use the services” handsets provide access to.
She added the number of active apps available to users more than doubled between 2014 and 2019, but finding access to relevant content remains a challenge for users in countries which have “large linguistic diversity”.