Led by falling cost of handsets and increased data consumption, new mobile subscriptions have grown the fastest in India with 18 million net additions in the third quarter of 2014, telecom gear maker Ericsson said today.
Globally, there was an addition of 110 million new subscriptions during the period, including 12 million in China, 5 million in Indonesia and 4 million each in Russia and USA, Ericsson Mobility Report for 2014 said.
"In India, mobile is becoming the first access point for internet for many. This coupled with falling cost of handsets, increased data consumption; improved usability and increasing network coverage are driving growth of mobile subscriptions," Ericsson India Head Chris Houghton said.
The report said around the world smartphone uptake has continued at a strong pace and these devices accounted for 65-70 per cent of all mobile phones sold in the third quarter of 2014, compared to around 55 per cent during the corresponding period in 2013.
"Of all mobile phone subscriptions today, around 37 per cent are associated with smartphones, leaving considerable room for further uptake," it added.
Ericsson said mobile data user demographics are evolving fast in India, with mobile broadband starting to bridge the digital divide between the rural and urban populations.
It added mobile data usage and services are becoming increasingly mainstream, with a growing proportion of people from lower-income groups now downloading apps and streaming video content from the internet using mobile devices.
It is forecast that by 2020, 45 per cent of Indian population will be covered by LTE or 4G, the report said.
Ericsson said at present India has much less mobile broadband spectrum allocated than markets with high mobile broadband penetration.
It said the release of additional spectrum in the relevant bands will make services more affordable, while harmonisation of spectrum will allow a lower cost device ecosystem to evolve.
"This will play a key role in driving mobile broadband growth in India, and will be an increasingly important driver of mobile networks' overall capacity, quality and user experience," the report added.