Mobile subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region will reach 1.9 billion in 2019, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.
In 2013, there were 1.2 billion mobile subscriptions and the mobile penetration in the Middle East is currently at 107%, with 365 million mobile subscriptions. Ericsson forecasts that by 2019, 50% of the handset subscriptions in the MEA region will be for smartphones.
Teemu Salmi, vice president and head of operations at Ericsson Middle East and North East Africa Region said: “The Middle East is a market full of early-adoption consumers, who are aware of and keen to own the newest technology. This drives smartphone usage and purchasing up, which, in turn, increases data consumption.
Operators across the Middle East must be aware of the predicted increase in smartphone use, in order to create sustainable networks that are capable of handling the level of data consumption that we will see in the Networked Society of tomorrow."
The company also predicts that in five years, 65% of the world’s population will be covered by LTE. Ericsson’s report revealed that there are 288 LTE networks commercially launched in 104 countries.
Mobile subscriptions will exceed world population in 2015. Mobile subscriptions have grown by 7% year-over-year, with 120 million net additions in the first quarter of the year.
Salmi believes that “there is a phenomenal growth in the MEA region as the development of networks, economic growth and opportunities create more connectivity potential in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, while the uptake of smart devices continues to increase in the Middle East to drive LTE figures higher. As cities around the region work progressively towards Smart City status, this will continue to build upon the level of M2M connectivity, transporting MEA’s residents into the Networked Society.”