Measuring mobile internet adoption readiness: which countries are leading the way?

The latest data on the GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index reveals the leading and most improved global markets for mobile internet adoption

The internet is the most important enabler of social development and economic growth of our time, and yet around 4 billion people – half of the world’s population – remain offline, unable to participate and unaware of the opportunities that being online provides.

Mobile represents the best opportunity to deliver on the ambition of universal internet access. Putting the foundations in place to drive mobile internet adoption therefore has the potential to enable billions of global citizens to join the digital economy, as well as supporting many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The GSMA has developed the Mobile Connectivity Index in order to help the mobile industry and the wider international community measure how prepared individual countries are to extend mobile internet services to their citizens. The Index measures individual countries based on the four key enablers for mobile internet adoption – infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content (see Fig 1).

Fig 1: The four key mobile internet enablers


Australia Named World’s Most Developed Mobile Internet Market

The Mobile Connectivity Index calculates the four enablers to produce an overall composite score out of 100. Based on the latest updates to the Index, Australia was the number-one ranked market worldwide last year with a score of 87.3, followed by Norway (85.5) and New Zealand (85.2).

All the Nordic markets performed well with Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland all featuring in the top ten (see Table 1). The scores for 150 markets worldwide can be accessed via the free-to-use portal at:

  Market Index Score
1 Australia 87.3
2 Norway 85.5
3 New Zealand 85.2
4 Finland 83.9
5 Singapore 83.4
6 Sweden 83.2
7 Denmark 82.9
8 Netherlands 82.7
9 Iceland 82.7
10 Switzerland 82.7

Table 1: Top Ten Mobile Internet Markets, 2016
Source: GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index

At the end of 2016, more than 70 per cent of Australia’s population were using their mobile phones to access the internet, compared to 48 per cent globally. The high rate of adoption is reflected by Australia scoring well across all four enablers on the Index. It holds the top score worldwide for consumer readiness, due to a highly educated population, and is second in terms of infrastructure, with mobile broadband networks (3G/4G) covering more than 95 per cent of the population. It also has the third-highest content score, reflecting Australia’s position as a leading producer of mobile internet content, such as websites, apps and e-government services.


Montenegro the Most Improved Mobile Internet Market

The Mobile Connectivity Index also tracks country scores over time, beginning in 2014. Since then a number of countries have made significant progress in putting frameworks in place to encourage mobile internet adoption. The majority of the top ten most-improved countries (see Table 2) have achieved progress by developing their infrastructure (3G and 4G coverage expansion and other network improvements) and producing more locally relevant content for their users, for example mobile apps in local languages (e.g. Amharic, Mongolian, Khmer). Many South Asian countries have also recorded notable improvements in their affordability scores, as both mobile data plans and devices become more affordable for lower income groups.

  Market Index Score Change
1 Montenegro +12.9
2 Georgia +12.6
3 Ethiopia +12.2
4 Mongolia +12.0
5 Serbia +11.6
6 Cambodia +11.1
7 Azerbaijan +11.0
8 Sri Lanka +10.6
9 Laos +10.5
10 Nepal +10.2

Table 2: Most improved mobile internet markets, 2014-2016
Source: GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index 


Monitoring Mobile Internet Performance

On a global basis, the average Mobile Connectivity Index score increased six points to 59 between 2014 and 2016 due to global average increases on all four enablers (see Fig 2). At the end of last year, there were approximately 3.5 billion mobile internet subscribers, representing just under half of the global population.

Fig 2: Global Index and Enabler scores, 2014-2016


The Mobile Connectivity Index is accessible through a freely available web-based interface that allows users to explore in detail the performance of individual countries, compare countries against each other, and investigate the different dimensions and indicators that feed into each of the enablers. The tool can be found at

The Index is a collaboration between GSMA Intelligence and the GSMA’s Connected Society programme. Connected Society forms part of the GSMA’s Mobile for Development team