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Middle East has 96% mobile penetration

New Ericsson study reveals region has one of the highest penetration rates in the world

Middle East has 96% mobile penetration
Mobile penetration rates in the Middle East are among the highest in the world, according to a report by Ericsson.

The Middle East has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, with 96% of the population having access to mobile communications, according to a new report from Ericsson. The global mobile penetration rate currently stands at 82%.

The number of new connections in the Middle East grew by 3% on Q3 2011, and the number of connections increased to 244 million according to Ericsson's November 2011 Traffic and Market Data report.

The region also saw more growth in mobile penetration during this time than North America and Western Europe combined with 7.7m new mobile subscriptions added between July and September 2011.

Approximately half of that number of new subscriptions were added in North America at 3.6m and 3.1m in Western Europe.

"The Middle East region is seeing a tremendous amount of growth in mobile telephony and this is being driven a combination of new technologies and a culture of connectivity or what we, at Ericsson, call a ‘Networked Society'," said Anders Lindblad, president, Region Middle East and North Africa. "The data reveals more than just the fact that there is still a tremendous amount of potential in the mobile market. I would go so far as to say that it reflects the evolution of society and the way we interact and communicate."

Ericsson data shows that global mobile subscriptions now total around 5.8bn, with the actual number of subscribers estimated to be around 3.9bn, since many subscribers have several subscriptions.

The report also shows that there is continued momentum in smartphone uptake around the world, with 30% of all handsets sold in Q3 2011 considered to be smartphones.

Only around 10% of the worldwide installed base of subscriptions use smartphones, which translates into considerable room for further growth, according to Ericsson.

"We are tracking an extraordinary surge in broadband data consumption here in the Middle East and around the world and we are expecting a 10-fold increase in mobile data traffic by 2016. Importantly, we are also seeing that telecommunications operators in the region are keeping pace with this change in demand, as demonstrated by the recent 4G/LTE launches," Lindblad said.

Ericsson has also predicted that global mobile broadband subscriptions will reach almost 5bn in 2016, up from the expected 900m by the end of 2011.

That growth would represent 60% year-on-year growth; total smartphone traffic is expected to triple during 2011.

Internet access will continue to drive mobile traffic development across all devices and mobile data traffic is expected to grow by nearly 60% per year around the world, between 2011 and 2016, mainly driven by video.

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