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Mobile subscriptions worldwide Q1 2018

The total number of mobile subscriptions was around 7.9 billion in Q1 2018, with 98 million new subscriptions added during the quarter.


Key findings

  • During Q1 2018, 98 million new mobile subscriptions were added globally.
  • The total number of mobile subscriptions was around 7.9 billion in Q1 2018.
  • China had the most net additions in Q1, likely due to intense competition among operators.
  • There are now 5.5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.
  • Global subscription penetration in Q1 2018 was 104 percent.

The number of mobile subscriptions grew at 4 percent year-on-year, reaching 7.9 billion in Q1. China had the most net additions during the quarter (+53 million), followed by India (+16 million), Indonesia (+6 million), Pakistan (+5 million) and Nigeria (+3 million). (Please note that this list is based on source information available mid-May 2018. The list has been updated after initial publication since Pakistan was missed from the list. The printed report does not reflect this update.). The high growth in China during the quarter is likely the result of intense competition among operators, driving up the number of subscribers with multiple subscriptions.

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions1 is growing at 20 percent year-on-year, increasing by 200 million in Q1 2018. The total is now 5.5 billion.

The number of LTE subscriptions increased by 210 million during the quarter to reach a total of 2.9 billion. The net addition for WCDMA/HSPA was around 10 million subscriptions.

Over the same period, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions declined by 90 million. Other technologies declined by around 32 million.

Subscriptions associated with smartphones now account for around 60 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions. The number of smartphones sold declined to around 340 million in Q1, representing around 85 percent of all mobile phones sold in the quarter.


There are now 5.5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.

Mobile subscriptions Q1 2018 (million)
New mobile subscriptions Q1 2018 (million)

Top 5 countries by net additions Q1 2018

1. China +53 million
2. India +16 million 
3. Indonesia +6 million 
4. Pakistan +5 million
5. Bangladesh +2 million

Note: This table is based on source information available mid-May 2018. The table has been updated after initial publication since Pakistan was missed from the list. The printed report does not reflect this update.

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 5.3 billion subscribers globally compared to 7.9 billion subscriptions.


104 percent global subscription penetration in Q1 2018.

Subscription penetration Q1 2018 (percent of population)

1  Mobile broadband includes radio access technologies HSPA (3G), LTE (4G), 5G, CDMA2000 EV-DO, TD-SCDMA and Mobile WiMAX