Where is mobile traffic more and less popular?

You’re having dinner. You look at the table next to you, noticing everyone is checking their phones, scrolling, browsing, and interacting with that little piece of hardware that puts everyone in touch with friends, family, work. Not to mention the giant public square of sorts that social media has become. That could happen in the car (hopefully with the passengers, never the driver), at home when you’re on the sofa, in bed or even when you’re commuting or just bored in line for the groceries.

Or perhaps you use your mobile phone as your only connection to the Internet. It might be your one means of communication and doing business. For many, the mobile Internet opened up access and opportunity that simply was not possible before.

Around the world the use of mobile Internet differs widely. In some countries mobile traffic dominates, in others desktop still reigns supreme.

Mobile Internet traffic has changed the way we relate to the online world — work (once, for some, done on desktop/laptop computers) is just one part of it — and Cloudflare Radar can help us get a better understanding of global Internet traffic but also access regional trends, and monitor emerging security threats. So let’s dig into the mobile traffic trends, starting with a kind of contest (the data reflected here is from the 30 days before October 4).

In this area of Cloudflare Radar users can check the mobile traffic trends by country or worldwide (the case shown here) in the past 7 or 30 days. Worldwide we can see that mobile wins over desktop traffic with 52%
In this area of Cloudflare Radar users can check the mobile traffic trends by country or worldwide (the case shown here) in the past 7 or 30 days. Worldwide we can see that mobile wins over desktop traffic with 52%

The country that has the greatest proportion of mobile Internet traffic is…

Cloudflare Radar has information on countries across the world, so we looked for, in the past month, the country with the highest proportion of mobile Internet traffic. And the answer is... Sudan, with 83% of Internet traffic is done using mobile devices — actually it’s a tie with Yemen, which we talk about a little further below.

In many emerging economies (Sudan is one), a large percent of the population had its first contact with the Internet through a smartphone. In these countries it is normal not to have a computer and some even got their first bank account thanks to the mobile device.

How about Sudan’s neighbours? South Sudan follows that pattern and mobile traffic represents 74% of Internet use. The same in Chad (74%), Libya (75%), Egypt (68%), Eritrea (67%) and Ethiopia (58%). It’s a clear trend throughout Africa, especially in the central and eastern part of the continent, where mobile traffic wins in every country (for the past 30 days).

World map that shows (in yellow) the areas of the planet where most of the Internet traffic is done via mobile devices. Africa, the Middle East and Asia have the highest percentage of mobile traffic.
World map that shows (in yellow) the areas of the planet where most of the Internet traffic is done via mobile devices. Africa, the Middle East and Asia have the highest percentage of mobile traffic.

The Vatican goes for the desktop experience (but Italy loves mobile)

On the other hand, the country we found with the least mobile traffic in the past 30 days is... Vatican City, with only 13% (since the Vatican is literally inside Rome this might be an anomaly caused by mobile devices inside the Vatican connecting to Italian networks). Small countries like Seychelles (29%), Andorra (29%), Estonia (34%) and San Marino (36%) have the same pattern — also with a low mobile traffic percentage there’s Madagascar (27%), Haiti (34%) and Greenland (37%).

We can also see that the pattern inside Vatican City differs greatly from the pattern in Italy. Italy is one of the most mobile-friendly European countries — Italians seem to prefer mobile to desktop. About 57% of Internet traffic is via mobile devices. Italy is only matched, in Europe, by its neighbour Croatia — on the other side of the Adriatic Sea — that in the past month has had 58% mobile traffic.

European countries have differing mobile preferences

While we’re talking about Italy and Croatia, let’s dig a bit more into Europe. Only six countries have more mobile than desktop (laptops included) traffic. Besides Italy and Croatia, there’s Romania (54%), Slovakia (52%) and Greece (51%) — all more to the east of Europe.

At the end of this mobile ranking we have one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world: Estonia (a truly digital society, according to Wired). The small country only has 34% of mobile traffic. Other countries in the north of Europe like Denmark (38%) and Finland (39%) follow the same trend.

Spain (47%), France (48%) and Ireland (49%) are getting close to being mobile-first countries. The UK (50%) has the same trend as its neighbours — Russia is actually in the same ‘neighbourhood’ (with 49%). On the other hand, Portugal (42%), Netherlands (43%) or Germany (44%) are still a little far.

How about the Americas?

Peru seems to be the country in the American continent that has less mobile use (36%), only compared with Canada (38%). Cuba is the country with more mobile use (70%)
Peru seems to be the country in the American continent that has less mobile use (36%), only compared with Canada (38%). Cuba is the country with more mobile use (70%)

Peru (36%) and Canada (38%) have in common that both are the countries in the Americas with the least mobile use in the past 30 days.

Then there’s Brazil (50%), Mexico (52%) — Chile is not far, with 48% of mobile use. Cuba takes the crown, with 70%, followed by the Dominican Republic (56%), Puerto Rico (51%) and Jamaica (51%), all Caribbean countries. The exception is Haiti, the least mobile of the continent, with 34% of mobile use.

Let’s go to the Middle East: the champion of mobile traffic

Most Internet traffic in Yemen is done with mobile devices like this chart from Radar of the previous 30 days shows
Most Internet traffic in Yemen is done with mobile devices like this chart from Radar of the previous 30 days shows

In this part of our planet there are no doubts whatsoever: mobile traffic rules completely. On the top of the list is Yemen, with the same 83% of mobile traffic as Sudan (that we talked about before). But Syria is actually a close second, with 82%.

Iran (71%), Iraq (70%), Pakistan (70%) and Egypt (69%) show the same trend. The exception, here, is the United Arab Emirates, with 44% of mobile traffic, and also Israel (45%). Nearby, Saudi Arabia (the country with the highest GDP in the region) is at 55%.

A (mobile) giant called India

Of the top 10 most populated countries, the clear winner of our mobile ranking is, without any doubt, India, with 80% mobile use. The country of 1.3 billion people surpasses the biggest country on the planet, China (1.4 billion live there), with 65% mobile.

Also in Asia, the fourth-biggest country in the world (after the US), Indonesia, has 68% of traffic by mobile devices. The same trend of mobile-first is followed by Thailand (65%), Vietnam (64%), Malaysia (64%), South Korea (56%), Japan (56%) and the Philippines (51%).

Down under, Australia is desktop first (37% mobile traffic), just like its neighbour New Zealand (38%).

Just as a curiosity, Vanuatu, the South Pacific Ocean nation (population of 307,150), ranked some years as the happiest nation on the planet (by the Happy Planet Index) has 52% of mobile traffic. The current number one in that same index, Costa Rica, is at 50%.

Conclusion

Mobile devices are here to stay and have become already a bridge to help bring more humans to the vast opportunities that the Internet brings. Of the top 15 countries with more mobile Internet traffic, there’s just one that is in the top 15 in terms of GDP, India.

As we already showed, there is a world of trends and even human habits (differing from country to country) to discover on our Cloudflare Radar platform. It’s all a matter of asking a question that could be reflected in our data and searching for the answers.