Middle East mobile users rise by 69,230 per day
New report by Ericsson says 6.3m new connections added in region during Q1
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.
Its second Traffic and Market Report said that a total of 6.3 million new connections were added across the region from January to March, taking the total number of subscriptions up to 266.3 million.
According to the study, 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.
It 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.
"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."
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, it added.
Lindblad said: "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."