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4G mobile broadband networks will cover more than a third of the global population by the end of 2015, the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) has predicted.

The organisation believes 35 per cent of the world's population will have access to super-fast mobile services by December, compared to 27 per cent a year earlier.

Of the 7.3 billion people living across the globe, GSMA believes 2.4 billion should be able to take advantage of fourth-generation mobile broadband, voice and SMS services.

At the end of January, there were 352 service providers around the globe providing 4G services to businesses and consumers.

Of these, 108 are based in Europe, with the UK having four 4G mobile operators at present: EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three.

In terms of customer numbers, 490 million 4G connections existed worldwide at the end of 2014. This was up from just 200 million 12 months earlier.

GSMA reported that seven per cent of all mobile connections were running on 4G networks at the end of 2014, up from three per cent in December 2013.

"The rapid growth in 4G network deployments and connections, alongside expanding coverage reach, has made the move to 4G one of the fastest network technology migrations ever seen," said Hyunmi Yang, Chief Strategy Officer at GSMA.

She predicted that global 4G connections will grow at more than 30 per cent per year between 2014 and 2020, as more people embrace super-fast mobile connectivity.

"There is a tipping point we typically see when 4G grows to account for more than 20 per cent of a market that drives adoption of new services," Ms Yang stated.

"This 20 per cent threshold has already been reached in some markets, and is forecast to happen by 2017-18 on a global basis, which will have a huge transformational impact."

By the end of 2015, GSMA expects there to be 875 million 4G connections around the world, accounting for 12 per cent of total mobile users.

And by 2020, when figure is forecast to hit the 30 per cent mark, 4G networks should be available to 63 per cent of the global population.

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