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ABI Research forecasts over five billion mobile subscriptions by the end of 2010, with an approximate 4.8 billion connections having been reached by the end of the year’s first quarter. Much of this growth will be registered in developing markets in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

“This unprecedented growth is driven by India and Indonesia, which have together added over 150 million subscriptions in the past four quarters. Falling monthly tariffs and ultra-low-cost mobile handsets have democratized the reach and use of the mobile phone, and aggressive rollouts by mobile operators in these countries will see the current rate of subscriber addition maintained for some time to come,” said ABI Research analyst Bhavya Khanna.

Africa remains the fastest growing mobile market with a year-over-year growth of over 22%. Mobile penetration in Asia-Pacific will rise significantly to 65% by the end of 2010.

At the other end of the spectrum, developed countries in North America and Europe continue to add subscriptions despite already having crossed the 100% penetration threshold. Driving this growth in subscriptions are new mobile devices and the ‘third screen’ - including netbooks, tablet computers, USB dongles and e-book readers.

“The success of Apple’s iPad 3G shows that even operators in saturated markets can add subscriptions by introducing innovative and user-friendly devices,” said Jake Saunders, vice president of forecasting at ABI.

In addition, the introduction of 4G data networks such as WiMAX and LTE will see more consumers ditch their cables and access the Internet through mobile broadband connections. Operators such as Clearwire in the United States and Yota in Russia have seen consumers turn to their networks as fast and mobile alternatives to fixed-line broadband.

Tags: 3G, LTE, GSM, WiMAX

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