Emerging markets will account for four out of five of the estimated 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide by 2017, Strategy Analytics has predicted.
The research firm estimates that mobile subscriptions in emerging markets will grow at a CAGR of 7.5% between 2012 and 2017, well over double the 2.8% growth expected for developed countries.
China and India are expected to account for the bulk of new emerging market subscriptions over this time.
Worldwide mobile service revenue growth is slowing to around 2% a year. The Middle East and Africa region by contrast is expected to generate 28% revenue growth between 2012 and 2017.
This, coupled with the growing middle class population in underdeveloped telecom markets such as Africa, leaves emerging telecom markets looking like attractive propositions to international operators.
Emerging Markets Consulting director Tom Elliott said these changing demographics are stimulating demand for value-added communications services.
“Of course there is still a lot of demand for basic products and services , but the growing middle class is starting to demand more extensive data services on a widening range of smartphones, high end feature phones, and tablets,” he said.
Strategy Analytics also estimates that there will be more mobile phone subscriptions than people in the world by the beginning of next year.