Nokia ups mobile market predictions

There will be two billion mobile phones in use worldwide by 2006, according to Nokia, thanks to strong growth in highly populated countries

Nokia has upped its predictions for the growth of the global mobile phone market after calculating that take-up is accelerating quicker than previously thought in some of the world's largest countries.

Ilkka Lakaniemi, economist at Nokia's network division, said on Wednesday that the Finnish manufacturer estimates that there will be over two billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide by 2006 -- compared to around 1.6 billion subscriptions today.

Previously, Nokia had forecast that this milestone would not be hit until 2008.

Nokia's new optimism, which comes after some tough years for mobile manufacturers and operators, is based on growth rates in several of the world's most populated countries.

"For the first time in history, mobile phones offer people in countries like China, India and Brazil access to telecommunications services that they did not previously have," said Lakaniemi.

India currently has more than 43 million mobile phone subscribers, and its mobile market has been growing at a rate of over 50 per cent in the last few years. Last week Nokia announced plans to open a new manufacturing plant in India as part of its effort to meet growing demand for mobile devices in the country.

Lakaniemi explained that as mobile phones have now been in use for around 15 years, enough data exists for economists such as himself to calculate their value to individuals and businesses. Nokia says that firms who embrace mobility can expect to see productivity jump by as much as six percent.

Nokia is also tracking the extent to which mobiles are overtaking landlines in terms of total voice traffic. It believes that by 2007 the two will be neck and neck -- as they are already in Finland, according to Lakaniemi.

In the UK today, fixed networks have just over a 70 percent share of all voice traffic, Nokia says. By 2008, it estimates that this will have fallen to below 60 percent.

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