Senior ICT Analyst
ICT Data and Statistics Division (IDS)
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Postal Address:Place des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 730 5028
Fax: +41 22 730 64 49
Ivan Vallejo Vall
Telephone: +41 22 730 6288
This indicator is defined as the number of mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
Mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions refers to the number of subscriptions to a public mobile-telephone service that provide access to the PSTN using cellular technology. The indicator includes the number of postpaid subscriptions and the number of active prepaid accounts (i.e. that have been used during the last three months). The indicator applies to all mobile-cellular subscriptions that offer voice communications. It excludes subscriptions via data cards or USB modems, subscriptions to public mobile data services, private trunked mobile radio, telepoint, radio paging and telemetry services.
This indicator is calculated as the number of mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions divided by the population and multiplied by 100.
Data on mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions are considered to be relatively reliable, timely, and complete.
Mobile-cellular telephone penetration in many countries has surpassed 100 per cent. This can be due to a number of factors such as standard issuing of car phones, inactive pre-paid accounts and multiple SIM cards. Statistics on this indicator should distinguish clearly between post-paid subscriptions and pre-paid accounts and only take into considerations subscriptions that have been used within a certain time period (usually three months).
Discrepancies between global and national figures may arise when countries use different definitions than the ones used by ITU and especially when national data for active and non-active subscriptions are not clearly distinguished. Discrepancies may also arise in cases where the end of a fiscal year differs from that used by ITU, which is the end of December for most countries. A number of countries have fiscal years that end in March June or September.
Data on mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions are collected through annual questionnaires that ITU sends to government telecommunication agencies, usually the regulatory authority, or the Ministry in charge of telecommunication/ICT. When countries do not reply to the questionnaire, ITU carries out research and collects missing values from government web sites, as well as from Annual Reports by operators. Data are complemented by market research reports.
The data, which are mainly based on administrative records, are verified to ensure consistency with data from previous years. However there are comparability issues for mobile subscriptions owing to the prevalence of prepaid subscriptions. These issues arise from determining when a prepaid subscription is considered no longer active. Missing values are estimated by ITU.
Missing values are estimated by ITU using data released by operators and estimated net additions to the number of subscriptions.
Country coverage is 100 percent.
Depending on the country, there is usually a time lag of between 2-3 months, between the reference month (December of each year) and the production time.
Regional and global aggregates of the number of mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions are calculated as unweighted sums of the country values. Regional and global penetration rates (per 100 population) are averages of the country values weighted by the population of the countries and regions.
Year-end estimates are usually released in June of the following year through the World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database. Data are also available at no cost through the ITU’s ICT Eye, see: