M2M demand leads to major SIM card growth across Europe

A significant increase in M2M connections across Europe has led to an increase in the number of new SIM cards that were issued in the last 12 months, according to new industry figures.

According to GlobalData figures, 15.8 million new SIM cards were issued in Europe in 2017, with the increase in M2M helping to compensate for decreases in the phone market.

Growth in Europe has slowed in recent years as consumers change phones and networks less frequently. For example, in Central and Eastern Europe, the fall in mobile termination rates is decreasing, leading to a decrease in dual SIM users.

In Western Europe, M2M boosted growth to 17.3 million SIM cards with only 1.5 million of them linked to a mobile device device. Italy added 3.9 million M2M SIMs, while France added 3.3 million.

Balanced

The report indicates that most countries in the region registered growth, apart from Germany (which represents 38 percent of all incorporations), Portugal and Spain. In Eastern Europe, there were declines as well.

"In [Central and Eastern Europe] the growth of M2M cards in 6.6 million was not enough compared to the decrease in total phone subscriptions in 7.5 million," said Stephanie Char, technology analyst at GlobalData. "The fall was the highest in the largest markets in the region, namely Poland, Russia and Ukraine."

Figures also highlight the ongoing change from pay per use (PAYG) to postpaid. Excluding M2M, the contracted SIMs increased by 9.7 million, while the PAYG fell by 15.7 million. Western Europe continues to be mainly postpaid, but prepayment remains the main one in Central and Eastern Europe. Across the continent, PAYG accounts for 51 percent of the market.

"The use of data is growing rapidly in the region.The use of average monthly data almost quintupled in Western Europe in the last five years to 2.2 GB in 2017 and more than tripled in the EEC, to 3 , 1 GB per user per month, "concluded Char.

"In addition to Austria, Finland and Sweden in Western Europe, Russia is also contributing to increase the average CEE, with Megafon registering very high data usage: 6.5 GB per user per month in 2017."