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Mobile subscriptions to top seven billion in 2013

16 Jan 2013

The total number of mobile subscriptions on the planet will top seven billion by the end of the year, as infrastructure in developing nations continues to grow.

Analyst firm Pyramid Research said that if growth trends continue, the milestone will be surpassed by December, marking a 100 per cent mobile penetration rate in the world market.

Much of that growth will be in currently developing regions. Over the next 10 years, Pyramid believes that the Africa and Middle East (AME) region will see a meteoric rise in subscriptions. Combined with Asia, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe, the company estimates that some $720bn of revenues will come from developing nations in 2013.

"By 2022, AME will be home to more mobile subscriptions than all developed regions combined," Pyramid predicted.

"This projected growth will help raise the global profile of the region’s largest players on the global stage, specifically MTN and Etisalat, and help Western European players heavily invested in the region, such as Vodafone and France Telecom."

Meanwhile, the Pyramid predicted that Europe will see consolidation in its mobile market. With smaller vendors running into tough financial times, the analyst firm predicted larger firms could swoop in with acquisition offers.

The developing world has been a particular area of interest for vendors in recent months. Earlier this month, Intel unveiled a special line of its Atom processor built for use in low-priced handsets for developing markets.

Pyramid also sees new strategic trends helping to shape the market in 2013. It said that as LTE broadband grows the practice of offering unlimited data will will be going out of fashion, while the use of Wi-Fi networks to help shoulder traffic loads could become a favourite tactic for carriers.

"Many of the larger operators have either deployed their own Wi-Fi hotspots or established partnerships with Wi-Fi access wholesalers to provide Wi-Fi service, often for free," the company said.

"Unquestionably, hybrid networks are one of the major waves of the future."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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