Report: Global prepaid subscriber growth surged in Q1

A new report by Strategy Analytics confirms a growing assumption amid the economic recession: Where there is wireless subscriber growth, it's most likely prepaid.

According to the research firm, carriers' net additions were down 14 percent worldwide in the first quarter, with Asia-Pacific being the only region to record growth in customer additions. The firm's research tracks 175 mobile operators across the globe, accounting for 80 percent of global subscribers.

Fully 82 percent of subscription growth in the report's coverage area came from the prepaid market in the quarter, up 16 percent from the year-ago quarter. In North America, the report found, over one-third of total net additions in the quarter were prepaid, the highest level seen so far this decade.

Among other findings in the mostly gloomy report:

    --Carriers' ARPU was down in all regions, ranging from a modest 1.3 percent decline in North America to a 17 percent drop in the Asia-Pacific region.
    --Data services accounted for 25.3 percent of operator revenues in the first quarter, up from 21.9 percent in the year-ago quarter and 24 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.
    --Global capital expenditures in the first quarter totalled $16 billion, or about 14 percent of service revenues, down 1.4 percent from 2008 levels.

    For more:
    - see this release

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