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Ericsson Mobility Report Q4 2018 update

In Q4 2018, the total number of mobile subscriptions was around 7.9 billion, with a net addition of 43 million subscriptions during the quarter.

This report is a scheduled update to the quarterly subscription and traffic data section in the Ericsson Mobility Report, released in November 2018.

To view or download a copy of the original report, please visit: www.ericsson.com/mobility-report

Key findings

  • In Q4 2018, the total number of mobile subscriptions was around 7.9 billion, with a net addition of 43 million subscriptions during the quarter.
  • Global subscription penetration reached 104 percent in Q4 2018.
  • Monthly mobile data traffic grew close to 88 percent between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 – the highest growth rate seen since Q2 2013. As in Q3 2018, this is mainly due to the increased traffic per smartphone in China.

Mobile subscriptions Q4 2018

Global mobile penetration was 104 percent. Other interesting developments include the following:

  • Mobile subscriptions grew around 2 percent year-on-year.
  • China had the most net additions during the quarter (+20 million), followed by Indonesia (+7 million) and the United States (+3 million). In India, the number of subscriptions declined by 16 million, likely the result of the removal of inactive subscriptions.
  • The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew by around 220 million in Q4 to reach around 5.9 billion. This reflects a year-on-year increase of around 15 percent.
  • LTE subscriptions increased by approximately 240 million to reach a total of around 3.6 billion, while WCDMA/HSPA subscriptions grew by around 20 million. Most 3G/4G subscriptions can use GSM/EDGE as a fallback. GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions declined by 170 million during the quarter, and other technologies1 declined by around 45 million.
  • Around 375 million smartphones were sold in Q4. Subscriptions associated with smartphones now account for 65 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions.

1 Mainly CDMA2000 EVDO, TD-SCDMA and Mobile WiMAX

There are now 5.9 billion mobile broadband subscriptions globally.
Mobile subscriptions Q4 2018 (million)

New mobile subscriptions Q4 2018

New mobile subscriptions Q4 2018 (million)

The number of unique mobile subscribers is around 5.6 billion. The difference between the number of subscriptions and the number of subscribers is due to inactive subscriptions, multiple device ownership and/or optimization of subscriptions for different types of calls.

Top 3 countries by net additions Q4 2018

  1. China +20 million
  2. Indonesia +7 million
  3. United States +3 million
Global subscription penetration reached 104 percent in Q4 2018.
Subscription penetration Q4 2018 (percent of population)

Mobile traffic Q4 2018

Mobile data traffic grew close to 88 percent between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018.

Monthly mobile data traffic grew close to 88 percent between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018. This is the highest growth rate seen since Q2 2013, when traffic grew by 89 percent. When comparing the growth in actual traffic volume, the additional traffic in 2018 is 15 times larger than the additional traffic in 2013.

Traffic growth is driven by both the rising number of smartphone subscriptions and an increasing average data volume per subscription, fueled primarily by more viewing of video content.

Just like in Q3 2018, it is mainly the increased traffic per smartphone in China that has pushed up the global traffic growth rate significantly. As the traffic per smartphone reaches higher levels, the growth rate is likely to moderate.

The graph below shows total global monthly data and voice traffic from Q2 2013 to Q4 2018, along with the year-on-year percentage change for mobile data.

There are large differences in traffic levels between markets, regions and operators.

Mobile traffic