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Whether you're using lightning-fast 5G or reliable 4G, mobile data transforms your smartphone into a powerful internet device on-the-go. In the Middle East, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain are among the top ten countries with the most mobile data usage.

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Enhanced Broadband and Data Growth

The rapid expansion of faster and more accessible broadband is catalyzing digitalization and fueling an unprecedented surge in data volume. Each day, the scale of data generated is staggering, with over 1 billion TikTok videos viewed, 9 billion Google searches made, and nearly 350 billion emails sent worldwide.

Hence, globally, the amount of data created, stored, transmitted, and utilized has grown exponentially, from 2 zettabytes in 2010 to an anticipated 120 zettabytes by 2023, and is projected to surpass 180 zettabytes by 2025.

Global mobile data traffic per smartphone has also skyrocketed, increasing from 2.6 gigabytes per month in 2017 to 16 gigabytes per month in 2022, with a projected rise to 42 gigabytes per month expected by 2027. This surge in data usage is anticipated to be propelled further due to global expanded access to 5G and fixed wireless technologies in the forthcoming years.

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Global Leaders in Mobile Data

According to the World Bank’s Digital Progress and Trends Report 2023, in terms of monthly mobile data consumption, the island nation of Curaçao ranks first overall, with 131.3 gigabytes (GB) of average monthly mobile data usage.

Despite a modest population of 193,000, Curaçao leads the world in average monthly mobile data usage. This achievement is driven by factors such as a substantial influx of over one million tourists in 2022, attractive mobile data plans, and limited access to fixed-line telecommunications and broadband internet.

Kuwait ranks second, with an average of 83.9 GB of mobile data used monthly. Recent advancements in Kuwait’s telecom sector have extended 5G network coverage to about 97% of the population. Additionally, significant government investment in mobile platforms enables citizens to handle tasks like paying traffic fines or scheduling court dates through mobile apps.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain rank highly on this list boasting an average monthly mobile data usage of 44.2 GB and 41.6 GB, respectively.

Saudi Arabia ranks among the top ten countries globally for mobile internet speeds, with mobile phones serving as the primary means of internet access, accounting for 98.9% of usage. GlobalData predicts that the projected average monthly mobile data usage in Saudi Arabia will rise significantly, reaching 89.8 GB in 2028. This surge is attributed to the increasing consumption of high-bandwidth online video services and social media content via smartphones.

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The connectivity landscape in Bahrain is also undergoing rapid transformation, with 5G penetration projected to reach 75% of the population by 2028, up from 41% in 2023. The Bahraini government is actively bolstering the country’s connectivity infrastructure, in line with plans to establish a nationwide fiber-optic broadband network as part of the Fifth National Telecommunications Plan (NTP5). This initiative aims to provide affordable high-speed internet access to all households and businesses by 2026.

On the other hand, renowned for its cutting-edge telecommunications infrastructure, Finland stands at the forefront of mobile data usage in Europe. Notably, it has pioneered the world's first 6G test network. Leveraging its reputation as a hub for digital innovation, numerous companies have chosen Finland as a testing ground for new products and services before introducing them globally.

Other European countries on this list include Latvia, Estonia, Austria, and Lithuania. By contrast, the US (13.4 GB) and Canada (4.3 GB) rank low due to the high cost of mobile data in these countries.

Mobile Data and the Evolution of a Digital Society

Mobile data fuels digitalization by enhancing connectivity, driving mobile commerce, supporting remote work, and enabling smart solutions.

With this in mind, embracing digitalization is no longer a choice but a necessity, as it holds the foundation and potential to shape a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable world for generations to come. According to the World Bank, when fast internet becomes available, the probability that an individual will be employed increases by up to 13.2%, total employment per firm increases by up to 22%, and firm exports nearly quadruple.

As the focus shifts from expanding internet coverage to enhancing capacity in the upcoming decade, mobile data plays a central role in bridging the digital gap. The emphasis is transitioning towards upgrading networks to accommodate the exponential growth in data traffic and advancing digitalization efforts. Consequently, the digital divide is evolving; it's no longer solely about geographical coverage; now, it encompasses access, usage, and the quality of services provided.

In this context, the deployment of high-speed networks, including fiber optic and 5G technologies, will be pivotal in facilitating innovation and fostering digital transformation across various sectors of society. These advancements in infrastructure will empower individuals, businesses, and communities alike, driving connectivity, productivity, and socio-economic development in the years to come.

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