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What is Mobile Phone Penetration?

Mobile Phone Penetration is a way of measuring mobile phone usage in a particular country. It is usually expressed as the ratio of SIM cards to the total population.

This information is expressed as a percentage and can therefore exceed 100% if the number of SIM cards in the country is higher than the actual human population.

For example, by this measure, Hong Kong has a mobile phone penetration rate of 291% – the highest in the world in 2021.

A more accurate way of measuring how many people in a particular country have a mobile phone is using the stat Unique Subscriber Penetration which is the total number of people in a country that own a mobile phone expressed as a percentage of the total population. This can therefore never be greater than 100%.

Which countries have the most mobile phone users?

As you would expect, countries with a very large population have the most mobile phone users. According to the World Population Review in 2022 the top eight countries in the list were:

China (1.6 billion)
India (1.28 billion)
Indonesia (386 million)
United States (327 million)
Brazil (284 million)
Russia (256 million)
Nigeria (167 million)
Bangladesh (166 million)