According to the latest market data released by ABI Research, at the end of 2010 there were more than five billion mobile subscriptions globally, with one in five of those having access to mobile broadband.
Another 28% growth or 6.6 billion wireless subscriptions is expected by 2016, with 40%, or twice the current percentage of users, being mobile broadband-enabled.
Despite many markets reaching saturation with penetration levels in excess of 100%, mobile network operators still have a lot more to look forward to. “With the proliferation of mobile broadband, it has become increasingly common to have multiple mobile connections per user,” comments research associate Fei Feng Seet. “The main motivation is the desire to stay connected everywhere, with more high speed 4G wireless networks lighting up, and a huge increase in the popularity of social connectivity.”
Chinese and Indian operators are now the top five mobile network operators measured by subscriptions, putting Verizon Wireless in the US into sixth place. As of the third quarter of 2010, China Mobile alone accounted for 11% of all global mobile subscriptions.
“China’s and India’s penetration levels are nowhere near the 100% mark, leaving much more room for growth than any other countries,” notes ABI Research practice director Neil Strother. “However, the strictly regulated telecom markets in these two countries impose high barriers for foreign players, which may slow the rollout of new technology.”
In terms of subscriptions, worldwide mobile penetration now stands above 75%, of which the Asia-Pacific region accounts for close to half.