June 22, 2013

Having seen relatively limited smartphone adoption in the past five years, the advanced mobile device market in Mexico seems to be finally catching on. And with the major mobile carriers launching an army of low-cost devices in the second half of 2013, this could very well be the year of the smartphone. eMarketer estimates the number of smartphone users in Mexico will grow 48.5% to reach 26.3 million this year.

Strong double-digit growth rates will prevail through 2017, when eMarketer predicts nearly two-thirds of all mobile phone users will have an advanced mobile phone.

Broadband data plans are yet to catch up, though. According to estimates from the Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Cofetel), there were only 12.1 million broadband subscriptions during the first quarter of 2013. While this figure has quadrupled since Q4 2010, the finding is evidence of a still strong preference for Wi-Fi over mobile data plans among smartphone users.

Smartphone users in Mexico have long opted to hop on vast Wi-Fi networks provided by fixed internet service providers in high-traffic areas to avoid paying the hefty fees charged for data plans by mobile carriers. This issue, however, is likely to change quickly when the already approved mobile reform—which bans mobile carriers from holding a market share greater than 50% and pushes inter-carrier connection fees further down—is put in place in late 2013 or early 2014.

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