Mobile phones are increasingly becoming so much more than the telephones used for voice calls. GSMA, an organisation that represents the mobile industry, believe that mobile companies will make more money from our data usage than they will our voice calls by 2018.
The organisation attributes this shift to a surge in the number of connected devices, combined with an increase in the amount of machine-to-machine communications.
To coincide with its Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, the group have released five-year forecasts looking at how mobile is transforming lives, especially in developing world countries.
Of particular interest was the impact of mobile health services, which the group claims could help to save one million lives in Africa.
The fight against deadly diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and the ongoing fight against HIV will increasingly be helped by the greater use of mobile connectivity, according to the report.
Mobile impact upon food
Food is another area that will be heavily impacted by an increase in mobile data. For instance, the report reveals that 240 tonnes of food is spoilt each year during transit and storage alone.
If organisations used mobile data to keep better track of trucks and the temperature of storage facilities, they could however save enough food to feed 40 million people.
Bringing education to the masses
Education is another key area of growth, with the report revealing that 1.8 million children could be educated using mobile devices by 2017.
"Mobile data is not just a commodity, it is becoming the lifeblood of our daily lives, society and economy, with more and more connected people and things," said Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer at GSMA.
It isn't just the developing world that the group believes will benefit though. It outlines a number of major improvements that could be seen in the rich world as well.
In developed countries:
- mHealth could save $400 billion in healthcare costs in OECD countries
- Connected cars could save one in nine lives through emergency calling services
- mEducation can reduce student drop-outs by eight per cent or 1.8 million children
- Smart metering can cut carbon emissions by 27 million tonnes – the equivalent of planting 1.2 billion trees