SA’s real mobile penetration revealed

The GSM Association (GSMA) has released the results of a global, multi-year study, which shows that South Africa’s real mobile penetration per unique subscriber is 66%.

Results found that by Q4 2012, total mobile connections across the globe will stand at 6.8 billion – including machine-to machine (M2M) communications. Exclusing M2M and inactive SIM cards, the figure stands at 5.9 billion cards

“With consumers using an average of 1.85 SIM cards each, the total number of mobile subscribers globally will stand at 3.2 billion by Q4 2012,” the GSMA said, adding that this figure will grow to four billion within the next five years.

Global penetration based on total connections is set to exceed 100% in 2013, with mobile subscriber penetration standing at only 45% by the end of 2012, the mobile operator association said.

The research was conducted by the GSMA’s Wireless Intelligence team over three years and across 39 developed and developing markets, and examined the total number of mobile connections, as well as the number of individual mobile subscribers.

Individual mobile subscribers are defined as the unique users subscribed to mobile services.

Subscribers vs connections

“This research, for the first time, highlights the difference between mobile connections and individual mobile subscribers, and points to a significant growth opportunity for the mobile industry as we continue to connect the world’s population,” said Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA.

“By identifying inactive SIMs and multiple SIM ownership, we have developed the most accurate measurement of the global mobile subscriber base, which shows that only 45 per cent of the world’s population has subscribed to mobile services.”

According to GSMA’s finding’s, Europe has the highest real mobile penetration in the world, with countries averaging close to 90 per cent subscriber penetration.

Africa has the lowest real penetration, with only one out of three people in the region subscribing to mobile services in 2012. This figure is expected to increase to 40 per cent in 2017.

“In developing markets, where there is clearly an opportunity for growth for the mobile industry, SIM per user patterns are influenced by cost-conscious, low-usage consumers who tend to accumulate prepaid SIM cards depending on the latest and most affordable prepaid tariffs,” Bouverot said.

By looking at total connections in South Africa, the country has a 138% mobile penetration. When looking at individual subscribers, the figure is at 66% of the population.

These figures are projected to increase to 171% and 79% by 2017, respectively.

Total connection and subscriber penetration by region

Region Connections 2012 Connections 2017 Subscribers 2012 Subscribers 2017
World 93% 114% 45% 53%
Europe 135% 152% 76% 80%
Oceania 108% 119% 74% 76%
Northern America 108% 117% 69% 70%
Southern America 128% 156% 57% 65%
Asia 87% 110% 40% 49%
Africa 68% 88% 33% 40%

Total connection and subscriber penetration by economy

Economy Connections 2012 Connections 2017 Subscribers 2012 Subscribers 2017
Developed 122% 133% 79% 81%
Developing 87% 110% 39% 47%

Total connection and subscriber penetration by country

Country Connections 2012 Connections 2017 Subscribers 2012 Subscribers 2017
Japan 113% 132% 88% 92%
UK 123% 128% 87% 89%
Spain 119% 129% 81% 84%
Israel 135% 152% 76% 80%
Russia 164% 183% 73% 79%
South Africa 138% 171% 66% 79%
Brazil 140% 177% 58% 68%
China 82% 107% 43% 52%
India 76% 100% 26% 40%

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SA’s real mobile penetration revealed