9 Million mobiles in Beijing?...

Paul Cox
Author: Paul Cox Business Development Manager
Date: 2nd November 2016
Categories: Technology, Data, Telecoms, Neural Technologies

One of my favourite songs begins: “There are nine million bicycles in Beijing”. This overnight hit by Katie Melua got me thinking about:

1. The possibility of forging a career in parody song-writing, and;
2. My work in telecommunications fraud.

My song begins like this: “There are over 7 billion people in the world”… and continues to: “There are over 7 billion mobile telephones in the world” (my song-writing career may be short-lived).

In October 2014, mobile devices officially overtook and outnumbered human beings, passing our population total of 7.19 billion.  This is not the old phone languishing in the bottom draw of your bedside cabinet, but over 7.2 billion live connected devices, and they are multiplying five times quicker than people. The next line in my song is: “There are more devices in the world than people” (my song-writing career is over).  

Melua (the proper musician) focused on Beijing, capital of one of the most progressive countries in the world, and a country with the largest population. Yet, despite this, only half of China’s 1.4 billion people own a mobile device. This got me thinking about forging a career in Statistics instead… and after some high level mathematics, I come to the conclusion that some countries must have a mobile device to person ratio of more than 1.

One such country is Nepal, with 29 million phones to a population of 26 million people. Quite extraordinary, considering Nepal has 13 recognised languages and half of its surface area is covered by the serene Himalayas. Yet, modern technology halts for no mountain, and with the rapid production of ‘machine to machine’ devices and the Internet of Things, not even Statistics can accurately say what the number of active devices will be in 20 years’ time. 

The point of these musings is not for me to discover new careers, it is more simple than that. There has been a colossal growth of crime perpetrated in the mobile telephony world. 82% of mobile telephone operators see fraud as the main threat to their bottom line with 74% also saying that fraud will stay the same or increase in the coming years.

Companies have had some success in battling this, namely by introducing Fraud Management Systems. In 2005 the amount of revenue lost to fraud worldwide was estimated at $61.3 billion. By 2015 it was down to $38.1 billion and in the same time frame estimated telephone revenue has doubled. Perhaps we can pat ourselves on the back, but $38.1 billion is still half the GDP of Nepal. So I’ll stick to my career in telecommunications fraud, while you protect your hard earned cash and combat the fraudsters. You want help? Let me know. Paul