?Half of the world?s population will have mobile phones by 2008?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The current global revolution created by mobile telephony use has been predicted to continue with over 50 per cent global penetration expected in 2008.

According to a new report from a United Kingdom-based research firm, Portio Research, a further 1.5billion mobile phone users are expected over the next four years to bring the overall penetration rate to 75 per cent by 2011.

Current global population figures is currently put around 6.6billion as at July 2007 and mobile phone subscriptions had reached the 3billion mark in July 2007, according to figures released by Informa Telecoms and Media, a UK-based global provider of Business Intelligence to telecomms clients.

While Africa and the Middle East have in the past been cited as the main regions for the new subscriptions, Portio said some 65 per cent of these additional users are likely to come from the Asia Pacific region.

The majority of the new subscribers, it added, would be from rural regions in countries such as India and Pakistan, which still remain largely without mobile phones.

Portio predicted that mature markets, such as Europe are not expected to show any serious signs of growth over the next few years. It noted that the United States was likely to change that trend and record five years of sustained high-value volume growth.

The report, entitled, The Next Billion: Strategies for driving growth and making profits in low-Average Revenue Per User mobile markets,” noted that there would be a rapid rise in mobile owners in emerging markets, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Pakistan.

It however added that the monthly ARPU for US subscribers is expected to be equivalent to the yearly ARPU from customers in other countries. But in what shows the differences in levels of economic development among users, subscriber in India and Bangladesh are only just beginning to move towards monthly ARPU of about $3 or $4. Based on this, the report went on to claim that each North American subscriber is worth as many as seven new subscribers in Asia in terms of revenue.

However, despite the obvious disparity in profits made from each subscriber for mobile operators geographically, Portio?s study did offer insights into why the big players cannot afford to ignore any region. It stated that the sheer number of subscriber figures coming from this region should not be ignored.

It also noted that while Asia Pacific offered massive growth in subscriber numbers and North America and Europe offer the highest levels of ARPU, South America would see continued growth of basic services with significantly higher returns per user than much of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Moreover, it added that Africa offered great future potential as “the last billion” when markets everywhere else are reaching saturation.

True to the prediction by Portio, subscriber growth figures in Africa have been growing steadily. In Nigerian, the continent?s most populous nation, subscriber base has reached an all-time high of 46.2million users at the end of the third quarter of 2007, according to figures released by the Nigerian Communications Commission on Friday.

The report also said that Nigeria?s teledensity, considered the number of telephones to 100 people, is 27.42. The figures represented some of the fastest growth rates anywhere in the world, considering that mobile telephony started only six years ago.

According to the NCC, total connected lines at the end of the third quarter of 2007 stands at 46,228,173 lines with GSM users dominating with 43,593,310 lines (94 per cent). On the other hand, fixed wired/wireless services follow with 2,235,257 (5 per cent) of total connected lines while mobile CDMA accounts for 399,606 lines (1 per cent) during the same period.

Besides Nigeria, other African countries have been growing steadily, with South Africa and Mauritius having very high teledensity.

The fact that many countries, which hitherto had limited telephone penetration, had been proven to hold potential for further growth in revenue for mobile phone firms had made the GSM association to design special handsets for such markets. Called the ?emerging markets handsets?, the mobile phones are available at under $30 (N3,600) in many markets and they have helped driven increased mobile uses in many African and Asian countries. Motorola has won bids to produce the handsets for GSMA since 2005. However, many other firms including Nokia have introduced low-end products as alternatives to EMH products.

The report by Portio involved the top 10 growth markets of the next four years. The firm said it identified that nine out of 10 of those markets had one key defining factor in common – they are all low income per-capita markets compared to the wealthy nations that have made up the bulk of the first 3 billion mobile subscribers.

The report from Informa Telecoms that put mobile subscription at three billion worldwide showed that there were fewer than 2.3billion users of mobile services.

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Source: Punch on the Web (link opens in a new window)