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Mobile subscriptions worldwide Q3 2018

The total number of mobile subscriptions was around 7.9 billion in Q3 2018, with 120 million new subscriptions added during the quarter.


Key findings

  • As of Q3 2018, the number of global mobile subscriptions totalled 7.9 billion.
  • The number of new mobile subscriptions worldwide during Q3 reached 120 million.
  • China had the most net additions in Q3, likely due to intense competition among communications service providers.
  • There are now 5.7 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.
  • Global subscription penetration in Q3 2018 was 104 percent.

The number of mobile subscriptions grew at 3 percent year-on-year and currently totals 7.9 billion. China had the most net additions during the quarter (+37 million), followed by India (+31 million) and Indonesia (+13 million). The high subscription growth in China continues from Q1 and Q2, and is likely the result of intense competition among communications service providers.

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions1 is growing at 15 percent year-on-year, increasing by 240 million in Q3 2018. The total is now 5.7 billion.

The number of LTE subscriptions increased by 200 million during the quarter to reach a total of 3.3 billion. The net addition for WCDMA/HSPA was around 60 million subscriptions.

Over the same period, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions declined by 110 million. Other technologies declined by around 30 million.

Subscriptions associated with smartphones now account for more than 60 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions. Around 360 million smartphones were sold in Q3, which equates to 86 percent of all mobile phones sold in the quarter.


There are now 5.7 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.

Mobile subscriptions Q3 2018 (million)
New mobile subscriptions Q3 2018 (million)

Top countries by net additions Q3 2018

  1. China +37 million
  2. India +31 million
  3. Indonesia +13 million

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 mobile subscribers is lower than the number of mobile subscriptions. Today, there are around 5.6 billion subscribers globally compared to 7.9 billion subscriptions.


Global subscription penetration is at 104 percent in Q3 2018.

Subscription penetration Q3 2018 (percent of population)

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