World Wireless Statistics and Forecasts 2014-2020

Wireless Subscriptions

According to Quantum-Web latest forecasts, the total number of wireless subscriptions in 106 countries monitored will rise to 8.7 billion by 2020 from 6.7 billion at the end of 2014, a compound annual growth rate of 5.6%.

Most of the growth will come from the Asia- Pacific region and developing markets, adding 2 billion subscriptions over the next five years.


Figure 1. Number of Wireless Subscriptions By Region 2014-2020 (Billion, excluding M2M)
World Wireless Subs


Asia- Pacific, with a net gain of 1.3 billion, will be the region with the highest absolute number of new subscriptions, followed by Africa with 320 million and North and Latin America with a combined 230 million new adds, (Figure 2).


Figure 2. Net Gain of Subscriptions By Region 2014-2020
Net Gain World Wireless Subs



Postpaid Subscription

Based on statistics released by operators in 106 countries, the total number of postpaid subscribers at the end of 2014, stood at 1.9 billion. According to our forecasts this will rise to 2.8 billion by 2020 representing an increase of 1.9% (CAGR), taking the market share of Postpaid to 32% of the total user base from 29% in 2014, (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Number of Postpaid Wireless Subscriptions by Region 2014-2020 (Billion)
World Wireless Postpaid


Africa with 8.9% (CAGR) will register the fastest market in terms of conversion from prepaid to postpaid, while in absolute terms Asia-Pacific, with over 1.3 postpaid customers, is set to become the largest region for postpaid subscriptions by 2020, (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Net Gain of Postpaid Subscriptions By Region 2014-2020
Net Gain World Wireless Postpaid


Operators are strongly motivated to drive postpaid subscriptions as a source of critical funding for the CAPEX investments required to satisfy intensifying data traffic demands.


Wireless Generations

There is an ongoing generation shift in the world of wireless, driven mostly by better coverage, faster network and affordability of high speed technologies. While in 2014 2G remains the most popular technology, with an absolute number of 3.8 billion and 58% of world market, in 2020 2G subscription numbers will account for 2.8 billion or 32% of total subscription and will still be the most popular technology in developing markets, (Figure 5).

3G subscription growth, from 2.3 billion to 4.4 billion from 2014 to 2020, reflects the decline of 2G generation in more advanced markets, taking its world market share from 35% to 51% during the same period.

We observe an acceleration of 4G uptake in more advanced markets. The number of 4G subscriptions rose from nearly 1 million in 2010 to nearly 500 million at the end of 2014, taking its global market share to 7%. We forecast the market share of 4G to increase from 7% to 17% from 2014 to 2010 at 16% (CAGR).

Figure 5. Number of Wireless Subscriptions By Generation 2014-2020 (Billion)
World Wireless Generation