The North American mobile industry has been the strongest performing of any developed region for some time. The region has seen substantial subscriber growth, early adoption of new technologies (such as smartphones and 4G/LTE) and strong revenue trends. The region continues to lead innovation in all areas of the mobile ecosystem, including hardware, access technologies, operating systems and new apps and services that are scaling rapidly and changing how individuals live and work. With the outlook for more subdued service revenue growth going forward, it is important that operators in the region continue to innovate, focus on quality of service, and collaborate realistically and effectively with the broader ecosystem. The success of the mobile industry to date reflects high levels of investment, as well as a regulatory environment that has historically leaned towards effectively protecting consumers and ensuring a level playing field as opposed to being unnecessarily burdensome.
North America had more than 250 million unique subscribers as of the second quarter of 2015, equivalent to a penetration rate of 70%. North America continues to lead the world in adopting new mobile technologies, with 4G already accounting for just over half of the connections base in the region. Three-quarters of connections are already smartphones. By 2020, more than 80% of connections in North America will run on 4G networks. These factors will continue to drive strong growth in mobile data traffic, which is set to grow at a 42% CAGR through to 2019 to nearly 11 GB per user per month.
In 2014 the mobile industry and its ecosystem contributed 3.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the region, equivalent to about $670 billion. This figure captures the direct, indirect and productivity impacts of the mobile ecosystem on the economy, and is expected to increase further to around $750 billion by 2020. In addition, more than 1.1 million jobs are supported directly by the mobile ecosystem across the region, with another 1.1 million jobs generated indirectly. The mobile ecosystem directly contributed $75 billion to the funding of the public sector in 2014, a figure that excludes the impact of regulatory and spectrum fees. .
North America, and particularly the US and Silicon Valley, has for several decades been the epicentre of the technology industry and responsible for many of the innovations now taken for granted. Although the world is seeing a broader range of innovation hotspots emerge, the US is still dominant. There is a diverse and rapidly evolving mobile ecosystem in the region, which is supported by a well-funded and highly developed venture-capital community. Major tech players in the region appear to be positioning themselves for a future in which virtual reality and augmented reality could become as important as voice is today, while others are exploring the potential of data analytics to address challenges in fields such as healthcare..