Only 45% of the world's population subscribe to mobile services, trade body GSMA has said, but this figure is set to grow by 25% to 4bn during the next five years.
In a global study that examined the number of mobile connections and mobile subscribers, it found there will be 6.8bn connections by the end of 2012, which includes the likes of machine-to-machine communications. Excluding M2M and inactive SIM cards, there will be 5.9bn connections. Because a consumer has on average 1.85 SIM cards, the amount of mobile subscribers is much lower at 3.2bn, 45% of the global population, although GSMA said it expected that figure to increase to 4bn during the next five years. It said the growth opportunities came from the developing world and rural areas. By 2017, mobile subscriber penetration in developed countries will exceed 80%. In the developing world it will increase from 39% in 2012 to 47% by 2017.
Europe is the most developed mobile market, with a subscriber penetration of 90% on average. Africa is the least developed, with only on in three subscribing to a mobile service.
Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA, said: 'In developing markets, where there is clearly an opportunity for growth for the mobile industry, SIM per user patterns are influenced by cost-conscious, low-usage consumers who tend to accumulate prepaid SIM cards depending on the latest and most affordable prepaid tariffs. In developed markets, SIM per user patterns are influenced by the ownership of smartphones, tablets and other devices connected to mobile broadband networks and through the wider availability of shared data plans.'
Editor: Graeme Neill