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Global Mobile Subscriber Growth Highlights [Ericsson Mobility Report]

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Indian mobile subscriptions saw a net increase of 11 million or 1.1 crore in the fourth quarter of 2012. According to Ericsson Mobility Report’s latest edition, there were 71.3 crore mobile subscriptions in India at end of Q4 2012 as compared to 91.3 crore in Q3 2012.

The report notes a net addition after adjusting prior period figures as Indian mobile operators disconnected inactive users in the latter half of 2012.

Net Additions ericsson

At 71.3 crore, India’s mobile subscriber base accounts for 11.25% of all the other regions in the world as noted in Ericsson’s Mobility Report. Despite having the world’s second largest mobile subscription base, Ericsson pegs mobile penetration in India at 56%. While this may indicate headroom for growth and business opportunity for mobile operators in India, analysts are not convinced about the short term future of the industry’s outlook in 2013.

Recent issues including cancellation of licenses, regulatory uncertainty and companies shutting operations have garnered negativity. Positive policy decisions and improved revenues streams driven by higher tariff levels are seen by commentators as triggers that will help the sector move past its current hurdles.

Global penetration

Global Mobile Subscriber Penetration percentage

Mobile subscription base in China remained the single largest in the world. There was a net addition of 3.1 crore to the world’s most populous country’s mobile subscriptions base of 112 crore according to the Ericsson Mobility Report. Apart from China and India, the rest of Asia Pacific region’s subscription base widened to 126 crore after a net addition of 3.1 crore between October and December 2012.

Africa was the third highest region in terms of net additions made in the fourth quarter of 2012. There were 75.4 crore mobile subscriptions in the region at the end of the quarter. Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel is a leading player in many African countries including Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The Sunil Mittal led telecommunications company has presence in 17 African markets. Bharti Airtel’s Africa operation’s website announced in Q4 2012 that it had become the world’s fourth largest mobile operator in the world.

Mobile subscriptions in Middle East grew by 80 lakh net additions, a level similar to that of the findings in Ericsson’s Mobility Report for Q3 2012. North America’s mobile subscription base marginally inched upwards by 20 lakh to 36.1 crore while that of Latin America increased by 90 lakh to 68 crore.

15 crore net additions were made to the total number of mobile subscriptions in Central & Eastern Europe, tallying in at 64.2 crore at the end of Q4 2012. Western Europe’s count increased marginally by 20 lakh mobile subscriptions to 53.1 crore.

Mobile Data Traffic

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, mobile data traffic doubled in Q4 2012 as compared to Q4 2011 while it rose 28% sequentially. The spike in mobile data traffic is not homogeneous as the study acknowledges that there are major variances in levels in different regions and markets.

The report estimates that only 15-20% of the worldwide mobile subscriptions base uses smartphones. A strong momentum in smartphone sales combined with a growing market for smart connected devices may be seen as potential drivers fuelling a further increase in worldwide mobile traffic data levels.

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