Five billion mobile subscriptions half a billion of them on 3G

There are five billion mobile subscriptions on the planet now, according to Ericsson.

The 2010 figure contrasts with the global total of 720 million subscriptions in 2000. There are now more mobile phone users in China than there were worldwide ten years ago.

Ericsson says that mobile broadband subscriptions are growing at similar pace and are expected to reach more than 3.4bn by 2015, up from 360 million last year. Some studies say that more people will be accessing the Internet over mobile phones than from PCs by 2015.

Ericsson says that global mobile subscriber numbers are rising by two million per day. It also predicts that with the rise of machine to machine communications, there will be 50bn wireless connections by 2020.

Analysts ABI Research are forecasting more than five billion mobile subscriptions by the end of 2010, with an approximate 4.8 billion connections having been reached by the end of the year’s first quarter.
 
Africa remains the fastest growing mobile market with a year-on-year growth of more than 22%. Mobile penetration in Asia-Pacific will rise to 65% by the end of this year.

“This unprecedented growth is driven by India and Indonesia, which have together added over 150 million subscriptions in the past four quarters,” said Bhavya Khanna, an analyst at ABI Research. “Falling monthly tariffs and ultra-low-cost mobile handsets have democratised the reach and use of the mobile phone, and aggressive rollouts by mobile operators in these countries will see the current rate of subscriber addition maintained for some time to come.”  
 
At the other end of the spectrum, developed countries in North America and Europe continue to add subscriptions despite already having crossed the 100% penetration threshold. Driving this growth in subscriptions are new mobile devices and the ‘third screen’ - including netbooks, tablet computers, USB dongles and e-book readers.

“The success of Apple’s iPad 3G shows that even operators in saturated markets can add subscriptions by introducing innovative and user-friendly devices,” said Jake Saunders,  vice president of forecasting.
 
ABI is also predicting that the introduction of 4G data networks such as WiMAX and LTE will see more consumers ditch their cables and access the Internet through mobile broadband connections.

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