The world is running out of new mobile subscribers, research firm Ovum warns.
Analysts with the firm predict the number of new global connections will grow at a CAGR of 4% between 2012 and 2018, and that revenues will grow by less than half that amount over the same period, and even begin contracting for the first time in the industry’s history in 2018.
The firm forecasts global subscriptions will hit 8.1 billion by 2018, and revenues $1.1 trillion (€813 billion), however the sales figure is tipped to be down $7.8 billion on 2017.
“When you compare connection and revenue CAGRs, it is clear that mobile operators are facing a new reality: they must do much more with much less,” says Sara Kaufman, analyst for Industry, Communications and Broadband at Ovum.
Developed markets including Western Europe and the US will bear the brunt of the slowdown in new connections and revenues through 2018, while Africa is tipped to generate the highest increases, with subscriber numbers growing at a CAGR of 5.6% to leave the market with over a billion subscribers. Growth in Asia Pacific will also slow, but Ovum tips the region to remain the biggest contributor of new connections, due to rises in China, India and Indonesia. Total subscribers in the region are forecast to hit 4.2 billion in 2018.
Global ARPU is also set to fall during the forecast period, with CAGR of -2.7% across all markets, with the Middle East set to record the highest declines on a regional basis – CAGR of -2.5%. However, Kaufman predicts the ARPU declines will eventually bottom out. “ARPU cannot fall indefinitely. In markets with very low ARPU, it will reach a floor and then stabilize.”