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Global market penetration for SIMs tops 100pc

James Pearce
February 9, 2016

Now more than one SIM per person on planet, according to Ovum, but emerging markets still 10 years behind saturated ones

At the end of 2015, global penetration for SIM cards reached 100 per cent, meaning there are now more SIMs in use across the world than there are people.

Figures from Ovum shows that global mobile penetration has grown from just 33 per cent at the end of 2005 to 100 per cent at the end of last year.

Ovum’s figures also show a notable divide in mobile pentration based on region. Eastern Europe is the best connected, with penetration surpassing 140 per cent at the end of last year.

Only two regions fall below the 100 per cent mark: Africa and Central/ South Asia both sit around 80 per cent, according to Ovum.

The analyst firm says this is around the penetration level that could be found in more developed markets such as Western Europe over a decade ago. Ovum predicts these regions will not reach 100 per cent until the end of this decade.

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) is also making a significant contribution to the growing number of SIM-cards. Ovum said that in some developed countries, one out of every ten SIMs is used in a machine.

M2M makes up around four per cent of all SIMs across the world, but Ovum expects this to double to almost eight per cent by 2020.

Ovum’s European practice leader Dario Talmesio said:  “100 per cent penetration is undoubtedly a significant milestone, but we should be mindful of a few caveats.

“There are still big regional differences, and of course rural penetration in developing markets continues to lag far behind that in urban areas.  We also need to account for machines, which are taking an increasingly significant share of the overall pie.”


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