(MENAFN - Arab News) The number of mobile phone accounts in the Kingdom rose by 2 percent in the first quarter of this year to 54.3 million, of whom 46.6 million or 85 percent use prepaid phones, industry sources said.
Market monitors estimated the increase of cellphones in the Kingdom at 189 percent, while the number of Internet users in the country rose to 14.2 million from 11.8 million the previous year.
The number of landline accounts in the Kingdom rose 16 percent to 4.63 million by the end of the first quarter compared to the previous year, according to a bulletin issued by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).
"There are about 3.3 million residential phones accounting for 71 percent of total landline connections in the country," the bulletin said.
The number of people using broadband services through mobile phones is estimated at 11.95 million, the report pointed out, adding 2.16 million use the service through their landlines.
There is a 36 percent increase in the number of people using broadband services, CITC said.
According to Ericsson's second Traffic and Market Report, mobile subscriptions in the Middle East grew at a rate of 69,230 new connections per day in the first quarter of 2012.
A total of 6.3 million new connections were added across the region from January to March 2012, taking the total number of subscriptions to 266.3 million, said the report.
Mobile subscription penetration in the Middle East stood at 96 percent, compared to 69 percent in China and 97 percent in North America.
It was also revealed that total mobile subscriptions around the world are expected to reach 9 billion by 2017, compared to 6 billion at the end of 2011.
The report forecasts 85 percent of the world's population will have Internet coverage via 3G by 2017 and that mobile broadband connections will reach the 5 billion mark the same year.
Anders Lindblad, president and head of Ericsson in the Middle East, said: "These numbers are a clear indication of the tremendous potential for growth we're seeing in the Middle East. Although the region has matured over the years, as reflected by the penetration we're seeing, the mobile telephony market still continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, outpacing markets such as North America and Western Europe."