With more than 6 billion connections worldwide and US$1.3 trillion in annual revenue, mobile telephony has become the largest information and communication technology (ICT) platform in history. The global scale of mobile telephony and its economic impacts are well understood by industry participants and governments.  However, we, at Qualcomm, envision that mobile broadband—with its ability to connect people to the Internet in an ultra-personal and pervasive manner—will have a far greater impact than what’s being realized today.

Mobile broadband is already changing the way people across the globe access the Internet. It promises to drive even stronger economic growth and change the way in which we live, learn and work. This, in turn, is driving seismic shifts across the communications and computing industries. Perhaps most importantly, it provides unprecedented opportunities to empower individuals across all socioeconomic classes.

Recognizing the significant impact that mobile broadband is having on people and nations globally, for the first time the World Economic Forum has included it as a key metric in its country ratings for networked readiness in its new Global Information Technology Report 2011-2012, just released today. The report also features a full chapter to this subject that my colleague Bill Bold and I had the honor of co-authoring, on behalf of Qualcomm.

The chapter, titled “Mobile Broadband: Redefining Internet Access and Empowering Individuals”, examines the emergence of mobile networks and services as the primary way people access the Internet, followed by the rise of mobile devices, specifically smartphones, as the primary computing platform. The chapter also explores some of the transformative opportunities these shifts create in areas such as healthcare and education, as well as some key steps stakeholders can take to both enable and take advantage of these new possibilities.

In many profound ways, mobile broadband is an economic development tool for the 21st century. For people in many parts of the world, mobile broadband offers the first ever means of accessing the Internet. And for many, particularly in emerging regions, mobile broadband will likely be their only means of access. At the same time, it has become integral to modern life for people in more developed regions. In short, mobile broadband has become a force for change across all socioeconomic levels and in every corner of the globe.

We were delighted to work with the World Economic Forum to raise the awareness of how mobile is shaping lives and economies and to see mobile broadband given its due in the new Global Information Technology Report 2011-2012.

Author: William Davidson, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing & Investor Relations, Qualcomm