In a report published November 2015, figures show that the total number of mobile subscriptions in Q3 2015 was around 7.3 billion, including 87 million new subscriptions, proving that the number of subscriptions exceeds the population in many countries.
This is largely due to inactive subscriptions and multiple device ownership, e.g. for business and private use, or to optimize pricing by using different operators for different calls (this is common for example in parts of Africa).
In developed markets, users add devices such as tablets.
This means that the number of subscribers is lower than the number of subscriptions – the current figures are around 4.9 billion subscribers versus 7.3 billion subscriptions.
By 2016 the number of smartphone subscriptions will surpass those for basic phones.
Smartphones make up the majority of mobile broadband devices today and subscriptions are expected to almost double by 2021.
This is due to greater affordability in developing markets such as Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.
85 percent of all subscriptions will be for mobile broadband by the end of 2021 Mobile broadband subscriptions will reach 7.7 billion globally by 2021. T
hey account for an overwhelming share of all broadband subscriptions.
Mobile broadband will complement fixed broadband in some segments, and will be the dominant mode of access in others.
1 Many PCs and tablets are used without a mobile subscription, one reason being the price difference between Wi-Fi only models and those with mobile capabilities.
Despite this, the number of devices with mobile capabilities and a subscription will increase by 50 percent by 2021.
5G subscription is also expected to increase faster than 4G, as 5G consists of a new radio access (NX), an evolved LTE access and an enhanced core network.
It offers a wider range of services and will open up new industries and verticals.
In 2021, South Korea, Japan, China and the US are expected to have the fastest uptake of 5G subscriptions.
Most mobile broadband devices are, and will continue to be, smartphones. Many consumers in developing markets first experience the internet on a smartphone, usually due to limited access to fixed broadband. It took over five years to reach the first billion smartphone subscriptions, a milestone that was passed in 2012, and less than two years to reach the second billion. The four billion mark is expected to be reached by 2016.
The study also shows around 1.3 billion smartphones were sold during 2014, and smartphone subscriptions are expected to grow at an annual rate of 10 percent up to 2021.
This indicates that the majority of Android and iOS smartphone users are loyal to their existing smartphone operating system.