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Mobile subscriptions and penetration Q3 2016

84 million new mobile subscriptions were added in Q3, reaching a total of 7.5 billion


Key findings

  • Subscriptions for smartphones now account for 55% of all mobile subscriptions
  • LTE continues to grow strong – 160 million new subscriptions in Q3
  • There are 5.1 billion global subscribers
  • 84 million new mobile subscriptions globally in Q3 2016
  • A penetration rate of over 100% means that there are more subscriptions than people

Mobile subscriptions are growing at around 3 percent year-on-year globally and reached 7.5 billion in Q3. India grew the most in terms of net additions during the quarter (+15 million), followed by China (+14 million), Indonesia (+6 million), Myanmar (+4 million) and the Philippines (+4 million).

Mobile broadband subscriptions1 are growing by around 25 percent year-on-year, increasing by approximately 190 million in Q3 2016 alone. The total number of mobile broadband subscriptions is now around 4.1 billion.

LTE subscriptions continue to grow strongly, with 
160 million new subscriptions added during the quarter to reach a total of around 1.5 billion. WCDMA/HSPA added around 60 million subscriptions during the quarter. The majority of 3G/4G subscriptions have access to GSM/EDGE as a fallback. GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions declined by 100 million during Q3 2016.

Subscriptions associated with smartphones continue to increase and have surpassed those for basic phones. 55 percent of all subscriptions are now for smartphones and, in Q3, smartphones accounted for close to 80 percent of all mobile phones sold. 

Mobile subscriptions
New mobile subscriptions q3 2016

The number of mobile subscriptions exceeds the population in many countries, which is largely due to inactive subscriptions, multiple device ownership or optimization of subscriptions for different types of calls. As a result, the number of subscribers is lower than the number of subscriptions. Today there are around 5.1 billion subscribers globally compared to 7.5 billion subscriptions. 

Subscription penetration

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