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Smartphones not yet likely to prosper in Africa, mobile voice traffic still dominant

The prevalence of smartphones is unlikely to boom in Africa, contrary to popular predictions, while mobile voice traffic continues to dominate, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report for Q3 2012.

The regularly published report, released yesterday, provides data measurements and insights into prevalent traffic and market trends.

It reveals that the uptake of smartphone handsets globally speaking will not be nearly as complete as suggested by many industry analysts. Although projecting that smartphone uptake across West Europe and North America will be strong – with the report predicting that almost all handsets in the above regions will be smartphone by 2018 – uptake in other markets will be much less intensive. 

According to the report only one-third of handsets in Africa will be smartphones by 2018, a much lower level than widely advertised by industry commentators who claim smartphones are the way forward in Africa.

The Q3 report also revealed that while data traffic is spiking globally speaking – with data traffic doubling over the twelve months the third quarter 2011 – voice traffic growth remains stable, inclining slightly fuelled by the continuous rise in subscriptions on the African continent, where voice traffic remains prevalent.

“The Middle East and Africa is dominated by GSM/EDGE in 2012. By 2018 it will be the region with the largest share of GSM/EDGE, driven by a demand for low cost telephones. However, the region is diverse, so there will be large differences between highly developed areas and less developed areas,” reads the report.

GSM refers to 2G technology which supports approximately 9,600 bps, whereas EDGE refers to an extension technology to 2G – considered “2.5G” technology  – and has a theoretical maximum speed of 236.8 kbps.

Indeed, the report reveals that new mobile subscriptions in Africa are continuously increasing, with net additions to mobile subscription levels in Africa ranking at 25 million newcomers. As such, total subscriptions on the African continent stand at 724 million as of Q3 2012.

Based on these results, the report found an overall African penetration level of 67 percent, as compared to the global figure of 91 percent. In a number of the global regions considered, penetration levels reached above 100 percent – with Central and Eastern Europe leading with 128 percent penetration.

As such the average global level displays a middle point between particularly high figures and emerging markets where penetration in still relatively low.

Posted in: Mobile

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