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MEA mobile subscriptions to hit 1.9bn in 5 years

Dubai, June 10, 2014

The mobile phone subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is poised to hit 1.9 billion over the next five years from 1.2 billion subscriptions, said a report.

By 2019, about 50 per cent of handset subscriptions in the region will be for smartphones, which will drive data traffic growth, stated the communication technology giant Ericsson in its latest mobility report.

The Middle East is witnessing sold growth in the telecom sector with the mobile penetration in the region surging to 107 per cent, with 365 million mobile subscriptions, it added.

There is an expected 11-fold increase in data traffic in the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region between 2013 and 2019, second only to growth anticipated in the Asia Pacific region, said Ericsson in its report.

The report also revealed that there were 288 LTE networks commercially launched in 104 countries. This number continues to grow and it is expected that more than 65 per cent of the world’s population will be covered by LTE over the next five years.

According to Ericsson, the machine-to-machine (M2M) transformation is now evident. For the first time, the global number of active cellular M2M devices will increase three to four times by 2019, from 200 million at the end of 2013.

While the majority of cellular M2M devices today are still GSM-only, that is expected to shift by 2016 when 3G/4G will represent the majority of active cellular M2M subscriptions.

Teemu Salmi, the VP and the head of operations, Ericsson Middle East and North East Africa region, said: “There is a phenomenal growth in the MEA region as the development of networks, economic growth and opportunities create more connectivity potential in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, while the uptake of smart devices continues to increase in the Middle East to drive LTE figures higher."

"As cities around the region work progressively towards Smart City status, this will continue to build upon the level of M2M connectivity, transporting MEA’s residents into the Networked Society," he added.

On the future outlook, Ericsson said next year the total number of mobile subscriptions will exceed the world’s population.

The mobile subscriptions have grown by seven per cent year-over-year, with 120 million net additions in the first quarter alone. "Mobile broadband subscriptions also continue to grow and will reach 7.6 billion by the end of 2019, representing more than 80 per cent of total mobile subscriptions," he added.

In 2016, the smartphones will outnumber the basic mobiles, said Ericsson in its forecast. "In two years’ time, in 2016, the number of smartphone subscriptions will exceed those for basic phones and by 2019 the number of smartphone subscriptions is expected to reach 5.6 billion," remarked Salmi.

"In Europe, the number of smartphone subscriptions will reach about 765 million in 2019 and thereby exceed the population number," he added.  

The Ericsson study found that about 65 per cent of all phones sold in the first quarter of 2014 were all smartphones.

"Compared to today, a smartphone user in 2019 is expected to consume almost four times the amount of mobile data per month. This contributes to the 10-fold growth prediction in mobile data traffic between 2013 and 2019," stated Salmi.

The Middle East, he stated, was a market full of early-adoption consumers, who were aware of and keen to own the newest technology.

This drives smartphone usage and purchasing up, which, in turn, increases data consumption, said Salmi.

"Operators across Middle East region must be aware of the predicted increase in smartphone use, in order to create sustainable networks that are capable of handling the level of data consumption that we will see in the Networked Society of tomorrow," he added.

Ericsson has performed in-depth data traffic measurements in mobile networks from the world’s largest installed base of live networks. These measurements have been collected from all regions since the early days of mobile broadband.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Mobile | Middle East | Africa | Ericsson | Subscriptions |

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