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Despite a 9.1% dip in 2012 and a meager 2.0% improvement in 2013, the number of mobile connections in Peru reached 31.9 million in 2014, or 107.4% penetration among the population.
The poor growth rates in 2012 and 2013, however, were the result of new connection count methods among major carriers. Telefónica del Perú’s Movistar, a subsidiary of Spanish giant Telefónica and the incumbent mobile service provider in Peru, cancelled 5.8 million unused prepaid mobile connections and scratched them off its reports to telecom regulator Organismo Supervisor de Inversión Privada en Telecomunicaciones (OSIPTEL) in November 2012. Meanwhile, the second-largest mobile carrier in the country, América Móvil’s Claro, changed its accounting method in May 2013, leaving out all prepaid lines that did not generate mobile voice, text or data traffic in the three months prior to reporting to OSIPTEL.
Having absorbed the impact of new connection counting practices, 2014 offered the first undistorted annual look at the state of mobile in Peru since 2011. According to OSIPTEL records, the market expanded at a healthy 6.4% rate last year. Penetration was also up, improving by almost 6 percentage points from the 101.9% rate in 2013.
Meanwhile, the number of individuals of any age in Peru who owned at least one mobile phone and used it at least monthly reached 17.7 million in 2014, eMarketer estimates. That figure will rise 4.7% to reach 18.5 million in 2015. By 2019, the last year in our forecast period, mobile phone users in Peru will total 20.4 million.
Though Peru already boasts the fifth-largest mobile phone user base in Latin America in absolute terms, the country’s 60.7% penetration rate is well below the 64.7% regional average eMarketer estimates for 2015. That deficit will be reduced only marginally by 2019, with respective penetration in Peru and Latin America expected to reach 64.4% and 67.7%.
Smartphone adoption also remains constrained in Peru, with only 6.2 million users of the advanced device in 2015—the smallest such group in any Latin American country for which eMarketer produces individual estimates in the category.
The good news, though, is that Peru will be the eighth-fastest-growing smartphone user market worldwide and the second in Latin America—trailing only Mexico—this year, among the countries eMarketer tracks. But smartphone penetration in the country will continue to be the lowest among the six largest economies in the region until at least 2018. That year, 46.5% of the mobile phone user base in Peru will have an advanced device, trailing Brazil’s 46.6% penetration rate.
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