New data from the Ericsson Mobility Report shows a rapid boost in smartphone take-up and data usage across the world, with LTE technology set to accelerate that growth.
Ericsson’s report, which performs forecasts on the mobile industry on a regular basis , notes that data traffic has doubled between Q3 2011 and Q3 2012, and is expected to grow 12-fold between 2012 and 2018.
The company said further that it expects data traffic to grow at an annual compound growth rate of 50% – driven largely by demand for mobile video.
According to Ericsson, online video is the biggest contributor to mobile traffic volumes, constituting 25% of total smartphone traffic and 40% of total tablet traffic.
The research also found that almost half of the time people spend watching video and TV on a smartphone is now done outside the home, where mobile broadband connections are facilitating the increase.
Total mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 6.6 billion by the end of 2012 and 9.3 billion by the end of 2018.
China alone accounted for about 35% of net additions during Q3, with about 40 million additional subscriptions.
Brazil (9 million), Indonesia (7 million), and the Philippines (5 million) followed in terms of net additions.
Africa saw 25 million mobile subcriptions added to it’s total of 725 million subscriptions on the continent.
Overall, global mobile penetration reached 91% in Q3 2012, and mobile subscriptions now total around 6.4 billion.
Mobile subscriptions have grown by around 9% year-on-year and 2% quarter-on-quarter.
These figures do not include machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions, Ericsson said.
Total smartphone subscriptions will reach 1.1 billion by the end of 2012 and are expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2018.
Today the majority of mobile subscriptions are for basic phones, Ericsson said.
In 2018, Ericsson predicts that almost all handsets in Western Europe (WE)
and North America (NA) will be smartphones, compared with only around one third of handsets for Middle East and Africa (MEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC).
Advent of LTE
By mid-2012, LTE coverage was provided for an estimated 455 million people globally. Within five years, Ericsson said, more than half the world’s population is expected to benefit from to LTE coverage.
“LTE is the fastest-developing system in the history of mobile communications in terms of buildout and uptake,” Ericsson said.
“LTE is currently being deployed and built out in all regions, and total subscriptions will increase from around 55 million at the end of 2012 to an estimated 1.6 billion in 2018.”
WCDMA/HSPA networks are currently growing faster than LTE in terms of absolute numbers, adding 65 million subscriptions in Q3 2012 compared with 13 million for LTE, according to the report.
“Mobility is becoming an increasingly significant part of our daily lives; we always have devices within arm’s reach, allowing us instant access to information, entertainment and social interaction,” said Douglas Gilstrap, senior vice president and head of strategy at Ericsson.