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2015 Global Mobile Communications - Market Insights, Statistics and Regional Trends

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Last updated: 13 Apr 2015 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 110

Analysts: Peter Evans, Paul Budde, Henry Lancaster, Kylie Wansink

Publication Overview

This report provides important insights into the worldwide mobile communications industry and includes trends, analyses, statistics and unique regional insights for North America, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The report provides valuable information on the mobile communications industry including key industry statistics at a global and regional level; insights into the activities of the operators and identification of trends and opportunities. It also includes a global overview of handset, smartphone, touchscreen tablets and wearable technology. The report contains unique insights into regional developments written by BuddeComm’s experienced Senior Analysts, including insights into the BRIC markets and a case study on the emerging market of Myanmar. Please note: Mobile broadband is covered in detail in a separate annual publication.

Researchers:- Kylie Wansink, Paul Budde, Lucia Bibolini, Peter Evans, Henry Lancaster
Current publication date:- April 2015 (14th Edition)

Executive Summary

The changing face of the global mobile market in 2015

Mobile services have revolutionised our world, and promise to be a key to future transformation. The global mobile broadband industry has become an incredible spectacle to observe, from the many competitors vying for position, the amazing apps streaming into the market, and the constant appearance of new devices.

Mobile penetration, however, continues to vary widely throughout the world. In Europe, nearly 80% of the population were unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2014, while in Sub-Saharan Africa the figure was only 39%. But the developing regions are where we will see most growth in the years to 2020.

Mobile broadband access using the 3G and now the 4G/LTE networks has continued to expand as users continue to add tablets, modems and phones to use alternative communication methods and cloud based services. In the longer term, with the increased availability of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, the amount of mobile data downloaded is likely to at least double yearly for the next few years.

The global smartphone market has slowed from its boom years to a more modest but still significant growth. With mature markets becoming increasingly dependent on replacement purchases rather than on first-time buyers, the industry is shifting its attention to emerging countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, where much of the population either does not own a mobile phone or has yet to move from feature phone to smartphone.

A major threat to the smartphone business arises from the limitations of the mobile broadband infrastructure. The mobile industry can develop all of these new applications and services, but if the infrastructure cannot handle the capacity, there will be little use for them. Developed markets are eating up new spectrum with a voracious appetite. WiFi could be a good customer access alternative; it is already used to access mobile broadband in the home, but mobile operators have problems with the idea of changing their business models to better utilise WiFi.

Driven by the growing usage of smartphones and mobile broadband services, mobile messaging continues to gain popularity throughout the world. But the scene is changing. The traditional SMS market, which peaked in 2012 and is now gradually shrinking, is being replaced by Over-The-Top (OTT) social messaging and messaging apps. This decline in traditional SMS usage is particularly evident in countries and regions where there is high smartphone and mobile broadband penetration.

In spite of some commentators spelling the death of email in favour of social media and other forms of messaging, there is yet no sign that our email boxes will lie empty anytime soon. In fact, the number of emails being sent worldwide continues to grow, and global revenues from email are forecast to almost double between 2014 and 2018. The biggest change is that almost half of all emails are being accessed from a mobile device globally.

Despite the positive future ahead for the mobile sector, it must also be acknowledged that many carriers are currently facing financial woes, with stagnating revenues, declining ARPUs and increasing competition.

Average Revenue per User (ARPU) is a key performance indicator for mobile operators and used as an important benchmark by investors and analysts. The current economic climate has driven down ARPU for operators around the world. But besides the economic downturn, there are other factors at work. Price pressures due to competition and multi-SIM users are also contributing to weaken ARPU – as is the fact that most new mobile subscribers come from lower-income segments. If we look at Average Revenue per unique Subscriber (ARPS), however, the downward trend is less pronounced, as this measure removes the effects of multi-SIM ownership.

Roaming prices are a controversial issue around the world, with customers complaining that roaming prices are too high. Many mobile users are turning to alternatives solutions such as Wi-Fi hotspots and local SIM cards. Regulators in many countries have ordered companies to lower their roaming fees and increase billing transparency, thus lessening the chance of bill-shock. However, for mobile operators, roaming remains an important source of revenue.

Customer experience has become a key issue in the overall retail market, not just in telecoms – and dissatisfied customers are no longer taking a passive approach. In search of better prices and better services, more and more mobile subscribers around the world are opting to change service providers. As a result, churn rates are on the rise. Bearing in mind that the cost of acquiring customers is expensive, reducing churn rates can offer significant savings to telcos.

BuddeComm’s new report, Global Mobile Communications - Market Insights, Statistics and Regional Trends, provides important insights into the worldwide mobile communications industry and includes trends, analyses, statistics and unique regional insights for North America, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The report provides valuable information on the mobile communications industry including key industry statistics at a global and regional level; insights into the activities of the operators and identification of trends and opportunities. It also includes a global overview of handset, smartphone, touchscreen tablets and wearable technology. The report contains unique insights into regional developments written by BuddeComm’s experienced Senior Analysts, including insights into the BRIC markets and a case study on the emerging market of Myanmar. Please note: Mobile broadband is covered in detail in a separate annual publication.

Key developments:

  • Infrastructure sharing has become increasingly popular, and carriers throughout the world are selling or leasing out their mobile towers in an attempt to monetize these assets.
  • Tower Companies or TowerCos have made a lucrative business out of buying towers and leasing tower space back to operators – at the same time developing new sites for operators to share as their networks grow. TowerCos have been particularly successful in the Americas and Africa.
  • Smartphones account for over 70% of global mobile handset shipments in 2015.
  • Although Samsung and Apple remain the leading smartphone suppliers globally, their market share is being eroded by lower-priced phones from China. Moving beyond their vast domestic market, several Chinese brands are expanding internationally, especially to India and southern Asia.
  • In 2014, Beijing-based Xiaomi became the rising star among smartphone vendors, overtaking Lenovo, Huawei, Coolpad, and even Samsung in China, to become the country’s smartphone market leader.
  • Android continues to increase its share of the operating system market. Low-cost Android smartphones are expected to drive much of the smartphone growth in coming years, particularly in emerging countries such as China, India, and Brazil.
  • Wearable technology is expected to be the next large growth area for consumer electronics with smart watches, fitness trackers, augmented reality glasses and remote home monitoring devices all emerging from this new sector.
  • In March 2015, WhatsApp added mobile VoIP (MoIP) to its messaging app. WhatsApp’s user base has more than tripled in only two years, topping 700 million users in 2015. Meanwhile, SMS has declined to less than 70% of global messaging revenues.
  • In February 2014, WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $16 billion, and Viber was acquired by Japan-based Rakuten for $900 million.
  • Succumbing to competition, Samsung’s ChatON was discontinued in February 2015.
  • The migration to LTE is driving a surge in data usage, which has pushed up ARPU rates in some countries.
  • Operators who offer application-centric plans generally have higher ARPU and lower churn rates.
  • Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) continue to decrease throughout the world, reined in by regulatory intervention.
  • The European Commission is preparing regulations aimed at phasing out roaming charges in the European Union.
  • 5G will be the next development in mobile technology.

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