Middle East and Africa: towards an explosive shift to mobile broadband
Middle East and Africa is going to make a clear turn to mobile broadband adoption in the upcoming years according to the latest findings, coming from Ericsson Mobility Report for the region. The shift to mobile broadband is going to be explosive not only in terms of subscriptions but also of traffic. Additionally, it will not be limited to specific areas but as the predictions suggest it will spread out with similar rates to the whole region.
Due to its currently lower penetration of mobile broadband, Middle East and Africa seems to be ready for that turn, using two main driving forces: a growing young population who steadily adopts new broadband services and off course more affordable smartphones. Those two will work as keystones, pushing mobile operators to update their technologies and deploy their networks.
According to the report, which was released in a briefing at AfricaCom 2017, new mobile broadband subscriptions are forecast to overcome 1 billion in the next six years, reaching 1.85 billion in total by 2023.
Middle East and North Africa alone will meet an average annual growth rate of 13%, from 460 million mobile broadband subscriptions in 2017 to 980 million by 2023. Similarly, sub-Saharan Africa mobile broadband subscriptions are forecasted to grow by 16% from 350 million in 2017 to 880 million by 2023.
Performance of mobile broadband in the region will outscore growth of total mobile subscriptions, which are expected to increase at only 4% between 2017 and 2023, reaching 2.03 billion by 2023.
When it comes to LTE subscriptions in MEA region, they are expected to grow more than 4.5X between 2017 and 2023, reaching 860 million This means that LTE subscriptions in the Middle East and North Africa will grow by 23% from 160 million in 2017 to 570 million by 2023. For the sub-Saharan Africa region, LTE subscriptions will expand by 47% from 30 million in 2017 to 310 million by 2023. Additionally, mobile traffic in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 49%.
The report mentions that WCDMA/HSPA and LTE combined will see a rise from 50% to over 90% of total subscriptions by the end of the period. During the forecast period the first 5G networks are expected to be deployed and the first subscriptions are expected at the beginning of the next decade, reaching around 17 million subscriptions by the end of 2023.
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