Data

Mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people

What you should know about this indicator

Mobile cellular telephone subscriptions are subscriptions to a public mobile telephone service that provide access to the PSTN using cellular technology. The indicator includes (and is split into) 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.

Limitations and exceptions: Operators have traditionally been the main source of telecommunications data, so information on subscriptions has been widely available for most countries. This gives a general idea of access, but a more precise measure is the penetration rate - the share of households with access to telecommunications. During the past few years more information on information and communication technology use has become available from household and business surveys. Also important are data on actual use of telecommunications services. Ideally, statistics on telecommunications (and other information and communications technologies) should be compiled for all three measures: subscriptions, access, and use. The quality of data varies among reporting countries as a result of differences in regulations covering data provision and availability.

Discrepancies between global and national figures may arise when countries use a different definition than the one used by ITU. For example, some countries do not include the number of ISDN channels when calculating the number of fixed telephone lines. 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 of every year. A number of countries have fiscal years that end in March or June of every year. Data are usually not adjusted but discrepancies in the definition, reference year or the break in comparability in between years are noted in a data note. For this reason, data are not always strictly comparable. Missing values are estimated by ITU.

Mobile subscriptions include both analogue and digital cellular systems (IMT-2000 (Third Generation, 3G) and 4G subscriptions, but excludes mobile broadband subscriptions via data cards or USB modems. Subscriptions to public mobile data services, private trunked mobile radio, telepoint or radio paging, and telemetry services are also excluded, but all mobile cellular subscriptions that offer voice communications are included. Both postpaid and prepaid subscriptions are included.

Statistical concept and methodology: Refers to the subscriptions to a public mobile telephone service and provides access to Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) using cellular technology, including number of pre-paid SIM cards active during the past three months. This includes both analogue and digital cellular systems (IMT-2000 (Third Generation, 3G) and 4G subscriptions, but excludes mobile broadband subscriptions via data cards or USB modems. Subscriptions to public mobile data services, private trunked mobile radio, telepoint or radio paging, and telemetry services should also be excluded. This should include all mobile cellular subscriptions that offer voice communications.

Data on mobile cellular subscribers are derived using administrative data that countries (usually the regulatory telecommunication authority or the Ministry in charge of telecommunications) regularly, and at least annually, collect from telecommunications operators.

Data for this indicator are readily available for approximately 90 percent of countries, either through ITU's World Telecommunication Indicators questionnaires or from official information available on the Ministry or Regulator's website. For the rest, information can be aggregated through operators' data (mainly through annual reports) and complemented by market research reports.

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) indicator is derived by all mobile subscriptions divided by the country's population and multiplied by 100. For additional/latest information on sources and country notes, please also refer to: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx

Source
Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range
1960–2022
Unit
per 100 people

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the primary World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially-recognized international sources. It presents the most current and accurate global development data available, and includes national, regional and global estimates.

Retrieved on
May 20, 2024
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
World Bank's World Development Indicators (WDI).

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Citations

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“Data Page: Mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people”. Our World in Data (2024). Data adapted from International Telecommunication Union (via World Bank). Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/mobile-cellular-subscriptions-per-100-people [online resource]
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Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data

Full citation

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data. “Mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people” [dataset]. International Telecommunication Union (via World Bank), “World Development Indicators” [original data]. Retrieved June 13, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/mobile-cellular-subscriptions-per-100-people