By Andy Sambidge
Penetration rates in region among world's highest at 96% compared to 82% global average
Mobile penetration rates in the Middle East are among the world's highest at 96 percent compared to a global average of 82 percent, Ericsson said in a report on Monday.
Ericsson's November 2011 Traffic and Market Data report also revealed that the number of new connections in the Middle East grew by three percent in the third quarter of 2011, with the number of connections increasing to 244 million.
Significantly, the region saw more growth in mobile penetration during this time than North America and Western Europe combined with 7.7 million new mobile subscriptions added between July and September.
Comparatively, 3.6 million new subscriptions were added in North America and 3.1 million in Western Europe.
"The Middle East region is seeing a tremendous amount of growth in mobile telephony and this is being driven a combination of new technologies and a culture of connectivity," said Anders Lindblad, president, Region Middle East and North Africa.
"The data reveals more than just the fact that there is still a tremendous amount of potential in the mobile market. I would go so far as to say that it reflects the evolution of society and the way we interact and communicate."
According to Ericsson data, global mobile subscriptions now total around 5.8 billion, with the actual number of subscribers estimated to be around 3.9 billion, since many subscribers have several subscriptions.
The report also showed that there is continued momentum in smartphone uptake around the world, with 30 percent of all handsets sold in the third quarter of 2011 considered smartphones.
"We are tracking an extraordinary surge in broadband data consumption here in the Middle East and around the world and we are expecting a 10-fold increase in mobile data traffic by 2016," Lindblad added.
"Importantly, we are also seeing that telecommunications operators in the region are keeping pace with this change in demand, as demonstrated by the recent 4G/LTE launches."
Ericsson also predicts that global mobile broadband subscriptions will reach almost 5 billion in 2016, up from the expected 900 million by the end of 2011.
Total smartphone traffic is expected to triple during 2011, its report added.
Founded in 1876 with the headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, Ericsson is listed on NASDAQ OMX, Stockholm and NASDAQ New York.