A new report from Ericsson, has revealed that the Middle East has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, with 96 percent of the population having access to mobile communications. In comparison, global mobile penetration currently stands at 82 percent.
Ericsson’s November 2011 Traffic and Market Data report also revealed that the number of new connections in the Middle East grew by three percent in the third quarter of 2011 alone, with the number of connections increasing to 244 million. Significantly, the region saw more growth in mobile penetration during this time than North America and Western Europe combined with 7.7 million new mobile subscriptions added between July and September 2011. Comparatively, 3.6 million new subscriptions were added in North America and 3.1 million in Western Europe.
“The Middle East region is seeing a tremendous amount of growth in mobile telephony and this is being driven a combination of new technologies and a culture of connectivity or what we, at Ericsson, call a ‘Networked Society’,” said Anders Lindblad, President, Region Middle East and North Africa. “The data reveals more than just the fact that there is still a tremendous amount of potential in the mobile market. I would go so far as to say that it reflects the evolution of society and the way we interact and communicate.”
According to Ericsson data, global mobile subscriptions now total around 5.8 billion, with the actual number of subscribers estimated to be around 3.9 billion, since many subscribers have several subscriptions. The report also notes that there is continued momentum in smartphone uptake around the world, with 30 percent of all handsets sold in the third quarter of 2011 considered smartphones. However, according to Ericsson, only around 10 percent of the worldwide installed base of subscriptions use smartphones, which translates into considerable room for further growth.
“We are tracking an extraordinary surge in broadband data consumption here in the Middle East and around the world and we are expecting a 10-fold increase in mobile data traffic by 2016. Importantly, we are also seeing that telecommunications operators in the region are keeping pace with this change in demand, as demonstrated by the recent 4G/LTE launches,” Lindblad said.
Ericsson also predicts that global mobile broadband subscriptions will reach almost 5 billion in 2016, up from the expected 900 million by the end of 2011.That would represent 60 percent year-on-year growth, at the same time as the data consumed by smartphone users is surging. Total smartphone traffic is expected to triple during 2011. Across all devices, internet access will continue to drive mobile traffic development and mobile data traffic is expected to grow by nearly 60 percent per year around the world, between 2011 and 2016, mainly driven by video.
Ericsson's presence in more than 180 countries, where it supports more than 1,000 networks, enables it to measure mobile voice and data volumes. The result is a representative base for calculating world total mobile traffic in 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.