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EghtesadOnline: GSMA Association says Iran is among the fastest growing countries in the Middle East and North Africa region and the world in terms of developing mobile communications.

The trade body represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Iranian mobile operators MTN-Irancell and Mobile Telecommunications Company of Iran are GSMA members.

According to the trade body’s latest report that ranks countries on the basis of their improvement in the field of mobile communications between 2014 and 2017, Iran was among the fastest growing nations both in the region and across the world.

The report added that Asia-Pacific and MENA are the most improved regions, because of their significant improvements in infrastructure, digital content and services, according to Financial Tribune.

In an earlier report, GSMA had announced that it expects smartphone adaption rate to reach 70% in Iran by 2025 from 38% by the end of 2018.

By 2025, the MENA region is expected to see the fastest subscriber growth rate of any region, except Sub-Saharan Africa, growing above the global average to reach 459 million.

By this time, 69% of the population will be mobile subscribers, only slightly behind the global average of 71%. Of the 78 million new subscribers by 2025, over half will come from just five markets: Iran Egypt, Turkey, Sudan and Iraq.

Subscriber penetration in Iran was 71% by the end of 2018, which is expected to reach 76% by 2025 by GSMA.



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According to GSMA, Iran will be one of the last countries in MENA region to roll out 5G commercially. 

The trade body speculates that the technology will be available in Iran by 2024 and a year after its initial launch, only 2% of the population will have access to the services.

This is while Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expected to commercially launch 5G by the end of 2019, GSMA reports.

According to the report, 44% of Iranian mobile Internet users still use the outdated 2G technology to surf the web, 38% maintain 3G connections and 18% go online using 4G.

The trade body projects that by 2025, 7% will use 2G, 52% 3G and 39% 4G.

As with other technologies introduced in the region, demand for and adoption of 5G is likely to start slowly and only grow more rapidly after several years of availability. On average, 5G will only account for 6% of total connections across the region by 2025, well below the global average of 15%. 

There is significant variation within the region. As was the case with 4G, some of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council Arab states are vying to become early adopters of 5G and will see adoption levels slightly above the global average: 16% of total connections by 2025.

Even in these markets, however, transition to 5G is expected to proceed at a much slower pace than that of 4G, since subscribers are less likely to opt for a more expensive 5G service when high-speed 4G services are available widely.

The growth of mobile broadband subscribers across MENA largely reflects the rising smartphone adoption rate: The number of smartphone connections has more than doubled since 2014 to reach 332 million in 2018, accounting for just over 50% of total connections in the region. 

While this is below the global average of 55%, MENA will see the second fastest growth in smartphone adoption of any region, with smartphone connections growing at an average annual rate of 8% to reach 587 million smartphone connections by 2025.

Mobile data in MENA are projected to continue to grow rapidly as well. Mobile data traffic was 2.5 GB per subscriber per month in 2017 and is expected to reach 23 GB in 2023.


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