Total global smartphone subscriptions hit the 1.2 billion mark in 2012, and are due to reach 4.5 billion by the end of 2018
Rapid growth in smartphone use plus higher network bandwidth is set to boost mobile data traffic, particularly video, according to a new report.
The new edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report has revealed that mobile data traffic will continue to grow significantly in the coming years, a trend driven mainly by video.
Overall data traffic is expected to grow 12-fold by the end of 2018. Increasing usage is driven by continual growth in the amount of content available as well as the improved network speeds that come with HSPA and LTE development.
The fastest growing segment in mobile data traffic is video, noted the report. Increasing usage is driven by continual growth in the amount of available content as well as the better network speeds that come with HSPA and LTE development. Larger device screens and better resolutions will also drive video traffic as they will enable high definition and eventually even ultra high definition video.
Video streaming services in some markets have shown a very strong uptake, added the report. People use services such as Netflix, HBO and Vimeo on all types of devices. As video conferencing evolves beyond fixed facilities in meeting rooms to being used on mobile devices, it will also drive video traffic growth in mobile networks.
Video makes up the largest segment of data traffic in networks, and it is expected to grow around 60% annually up until the end of 2018, by which point it is forecast to account for around half of total global traffic. Video consumption is on average 2.6GB per subscription per month in some networks.
Douglas Gilstrap, senior vice president and head of strategy at Ericsson, said: 'LTE services will be available to about 60% of the world's population in 2018. We expect LTE subscriptions to exceed one billion in 2017, driven by more capable devices and demand for data-intensive services such as video. Owing to the build out of WCDMA/HSPA, network speeds have improved, and so has the user experience.' However, while video is popular, users do not necessarily tend to spend the most time on data-heavy applications. Consumers spend more time on social networking, an average of up to 85 minutes per day in some networks.
Total smartphone subscriptions reached 1.2 billion at the end of 2012 and are expected to grow to 4.5 billion in 2018. Today the majority of mobile subscriptions are for basic phones. Smartphone penetration will increase rapidly, while it is estimated that subscriptions for basic phones will remain high, slowly declining from around five billion today, to around four billion in 2018. This is because a large part of the growth in subscriber numbers will come from the lower end phone segment.
Smartphones accounted for around half of all mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2013, compared with roughly 40% for the whole of 2012. The number of total mobile subscriptions grew by 8% globally year on year by the first quarter of 2013. Of those, WCDMA/HSPA added around 60 million subscriptions, while GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions grew by roughly 30 million, and LTE added around 20 million new subscriptions.
Mobile-broadband subscriptions grew even faster over this period (at a rate of 45% year on year), reaching around 1.7 billion.