Breaking down the barriers

Breaking down the barriers

The GSMA is committed to driving the collective mobile industry forward in getting the 3.1 billion people currently affected by the Usage Gap online.
The five main barriers to this are:

These are directly affecting people’s lives and livelihoods.

1. Inability to afford devices, data plans or other service fees

“I sold (my phone) because I wanted to support my family… [at least] we could survive for about three weeks after selling that phone.”
– A woman in Kenya explains how she and her family coped financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Lack of digital skills and literacy and a lack of awareness and understanding of mobile internet and its benefits

“The internet is for intelligent, educated people. Those of us with half knowledge won’t use it.”

– A woman from urban India highlights the digital skills gap.

3. A lack of relevant content, products and services that meet users’ needs and capabilities

“If you don’t have proper English, it can be a barrier… everything is in English. It would be good if there’s something in Sinhala.” – A Sri Lankan woman comments on the lack of relevant local content, which prevents her from utilising mobile connectivity.

4. Concerns about the negative aspects and risks of mobile and the internet, such as harassment, theft, fraud and online security

“We’ve seen girls and boys get in trouble using the internet — girls can get raped or even killed.” – A man from Bangladesh warns how security fears prevent people from getting online.

5. Lack of access to networks and enablers, or devices and services that are not accessible or easy to use.

“I previously had to walk three hours to another town to charge my phone, but now that there is a mobile charging booth in my village, I’m now able to use my phone and access the internet more often.” – A Tegea village resident (250 km northwest of Nairobi, Kenya) explains how a lack of access to electricity meant she was only able to use mobile internet infrequently.

The GSMA is calling upon all stakeholders to commit to breaking these barriers and closing the Usage Gap. Collaborative action by all stakeholders is needed to break all the barriers and address the Usage Gap, accelerate digital inclusion and ensure we are not leaving anyone behind in an increasingly connected world.