Mobile subscriptions in the Middle East grew at a rate of 69,230 new connections per day in the first quarter of 2012, according to Ericsson's second Traffic and Market Report.
The report revealed that a total of 6.3 million new connections were added across the region from January to March 2012, taking the total number of subscriptions up to 266.3 million.
Mobile subscription penetration in the Middle East stood at 96%, compared to 69% in China and 97% in North America.
The report also revealed that total mobile subscriptions around the world are expected to reach nine billion by 2017, compared to six billion at the end of 2011. The report forecasts that 85% of the world's population will have internet coverage via 3G by 2017 and that mobile broadband connections will reach the five billion mark that year.
“These numbers are a clear indication of the tremendous potential for growth we're seeing in the Middle East,” said Anders Lindblad, president and head of Ericsson in the Middle East Region.
“Although the region has matured over the years, as reflected by the penetration we're seeing, the mobile telephony market still continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, outpacing markets such as North America and Western Europe.”
Smartphone subscriptions are expected to reach 3 billion in 2017 according to Ericsson's second Traffic and Market Report.
Global mobile subscriptions reached 6.2 billion in Q1 2012 and 170 million new mobile subscriptions were added during the quarter.
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In the report, Ericsson also predicts that by 2017 half of the world's population will be covered by LTE/4G networks. Smartphone subscriptions will number around three billion in 2017 - compared to 700 million in 2011.
Mobile data traffic (voice and data) is expected to increase by 10-15 times between 2011 and 2017, mainly driven by video. Web traffic by mobile PCs and smartphones is foreseen to be dominant in the period, driven by the attractiveness of mobile broadband. Traffic generated by advanced smartphones is growing rapidly and is forecasted to approach similar levels as mobile PC based traffic (in total) in 2017.
Lindblad added: “This data points to the Middle East's continuing evolution into, what we at Ericsson call, a Networked Society. We are fast reaching a point where everything that can be connected, will be connected and where mobile access to broadband will eventually become an essential service.”