About one-third of total global mobile subscribership are from the world's two most populous nations -- China and India – and the number will continue to grow in the next few years, according to a study by GSMA. The study said India will add more new mobile subscribers than China over the next four years and hinted at a continuation of the trend.

The study titled "The Mobile Economy: Asia Pacific 2017" by GSMA said that Asia Pacific, which has been the biggest contributor to global subscriber growth in recent years, will continue to witness growth till the end of the decade. There were 2.7 billion unique subscribers in the region by the end of the 2016 and about 460 million are expected to be added by 2020, taking the total to 3.1 billion which is three-quarters of the population. The region accounts for more than half the world's mobile subscribers.

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"Asia Pacific will account for almost two-thirds of new subscribers globally by 2020 and will have the second highest growth of any region (behind Sub-Saharan Africa), with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2 percent between 2016 and 2020. The region's subscriber base will grow faster than the global average, and by 2020, three-quarters of the population will subscribe to mobile services (compared to 72 percent globally)," said the report.

Interestingly, India and China are responsible for the growth of new mobile subscribers in the Asia Pacific. These two countries account for four-fifths of the region's incremental growth by 2020 and almost half the global total.

Global markets by additional subscribers, 2016–2020
Global markets by additional subscribers, 2016–2020GSMA

India is expected to add 206 million new subscribers by 2020 with a penetration rate of 65 percent, while China is expected to add another 155 million subscribers during the same period of time, bringing the total to 1.2 billion (86 percent of the population), according to the study. The low penetration rate has indicated that India has more potential for growth in terms of new subscribers in the future.

Mobile subscriber penetration in Asia Pacific
Mobile subscriber penetration in Asia PacificGSMA

However, four countries in the region, namely Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are among the top five most penetrated markets in the world with penetration rates of more than 90 percent. So, the growth of subscribers is expected to be minimal or even decrease in these countries over the next few years.

Asia Pacific also has countries like North Korea and some Pacific Islands that are among the nations with lowest penetration levels in the world.