Global cellular activity reaches a new milestone

As many SIM cards in the world as humans!

The number of mobile users worldwide increased by 3.3% YoY in 2015, compared to 7% in the previous year. Across the developed countries, the number rose by an average of 2.7%, driven essentially by connected objects in particular in the United States. But four fifths of new mobile subs are now in emerging countries with 200 million net adds this year, two thirds of them in Asia and Africa. India’s market continues to expand vigorously (+7.3%) and their user base has now reached one billion. 

However, we observe a slowdown in some emerging markets due to tougher regulation on SIM card registration (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Thailand, etc.). Pakistan lost more than 15 million users over the year, two thirds of them in reaction to the imposition of biometric identity checks on SIM card owners. 

Migration to 4G accelerating 

The mobile Broadband base (3G+4G) increased by a further 25% this year and now represents almost half the world mobile base. Although 3G still dominates (more than one user in three), 4G has doubled in number to reach the symbolic milestone of one billion users at the year-end 2015, or 14% of the worldwide mobile base. 

Network rollouts and extended 4G coverage enabled Europe to double the 4G user base over the last year; in Latin America it even tripled. A large slice of the total growth is in China which alone connected over 250 million net new subscribers, confirming its status as the world’s 4G leader with 350 million subs, well ahead of the US and Japan (200 and 87 million, respectively). The leader in terms of 4G penetration remains South Korea: 70% of its user base at the end of 2015. 

Worldwide revenues up 2.9% 

Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East account for most of the world service revenue growth, but the North-American market is doing well too. Even in Europe things are improving: the 2.4% decline in revenues in 2014 shrank to just -0.3% this year, notably thanks to better data monetization.

Source : Informa WCIS, Sofrecom (January 2016)

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