Mobile revenues to top $1trn

The global mobile market will be worth more than $1.03 trillion by 2013, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. 

This would represent a 56% increase in subscriber numbers in six years. 

According to Informa's Telecoms & Media’s Global Mobile Forecasts to 2013, it took more than 20 years for the global subscriber base to reach 3bn. The report says 1.9bn net new subscriptions will be added in the next six years, pushing the global total past the 5bn in 2011. Total annual revenues from mobile operators will grow by more than a third (33.9%), from $769bn in 2007 to $1.03trn in 2013.

The report says that more than three quarters (78%) of the new subscriptions will come from Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America. Nearly half (47%) of the 1.9bn extra subscriptions will come from five markets – India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia. The mature markets of North America and Western Europe will contribute just 8% of new subscriptions.

By 2013, the report predicts that the number of subscriptions will be equivalent to 75% of the world's population. Some countries will have substantially more subscriptions than people – Romania (152%), Russia (153%), Italy (168%), Ukraine (173%) and Greece (183%). Growth in subscriptions (the number of SIMs) will outstrip growth in subscribers (the number of unique users), pointing to more people owning multiple SIMs. The global ratio of subscriptions to subscribers will increase from 1.29 in 2007 to 1.32 in 2013. In Western Europe, the ratio will reach 1.55 in 2013, and 1.75 in Eastern Europe.

The high growth potential of developing markets reflects the entrance of new operators, as well as improvements in regional network roll-out and rising competition, which is expected to lower the barrier for new subscribers. 

“Reductions in voice tariffs, the option of very low-denomination prepaid top-ups and the greater availability of cheap 2G and 2.5G handsets will open out mobile services to low-income, low-ARPU subscribers who have never previously owned a mobile phone,” said Chris Stamatakis, research analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and author of Global Mobile Forecasts to 2013.

Voice revenues will continue to make up the majority of total revenues, but will see slowing growth and may decline from 2010 onwards. Informa Telecoms & Media expects voice revenues to peak in 2009 in Western Europe, and even by the end of this year in 2008 in North America. Voice revenues are not expected to peak in the Middle East and Asia Pacific until 2011, and until 2012 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) will continue to drop. To keep annual revenues on the up, operators will need to promote usage of data services. Annual data revenues, unlike voice revenues, will will more than double from $148bn in 2007 to $347bn in 2013. As a result, the proportion of total revenues generated by data services will increase from less than a fifth (19.2%) in 2007 to more than a third (33.7%) at the end of the forecast period.

2G will remain the dominant technology by subscription numbers until 2013, its market share will fall from over two thirds (66.9%) in 2007 to less than one third (32.7%) in 2013, as 3G+ technologies gain ground. 3.5G technologies accounted for just 1.2% of total subscriptions in 2007, but will represent nearly a quarter (22.9%) of the global subscription base by 2013 and exceed the number of 3G subscriptions.

“As more next-generation networks roll out, 3G and 3.5G traffic will grow vigorously and the number of global HSDPA subscriptions will increase exponentially in the short term,” said Stamatakis. “Furthermore, with migration to next-generation technologies already under way, with operators increasingly favouring HSDPA as they jump on the LTE bandwagon, Informa Telecoms & Media expects operators to focus increasingly on fulfilling consumers’ growing demand for mobile broadband – which is becoming the long-sought killer app for mobile operators.”

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