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Mobile internet users to reach 2.6bn by 2022

Total traffic in mobile networks grew 70 per cent between end of Q1, 2016 and end of Q1, 2017

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4G subscriptions are increasing faster than ever, says Ericsson
4G subscriptions are increasing faster than ever, says Ericsson

Nearly 2.6 billion new subscribers are forecast to be added to mobile broadband networks by 2022 at a rate of more than one million users added every day, a new study finds.


According to the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, this represents an increase in global mobile data traffic of nine times its current level over the next six years. It shows the highest year-on-year mobile data growth globally since 2013, led by massive growth in India, and highlights the underlying need for mobile data, the report states.


As an example of the sheer scale of this growth, it would be enough to fill a European championship soccer stadium (with capacity of 50,000) 20 times each day.


The use of smartphones and easy access to mobile internet services comprise a major part of the traffic numbers. Ericsson analysed “smartphone mobile data traffic” within “mobile data traffic” to illustrate this trend more clearly. By the end of 2022, total smartphone mobile data traffic will have increased nine times reaching 66 ExaBytes per month.


Based on measurements made in hundreds of mobile networks, the Ericsson Mobility Report data truly illustrates the tremendous underlying growth in the industry,” said Niklas Heuveldop, chief strategy officer and head of technology and emerging business, Ericsson.


“4G subscriptions are increasing faster than ever, voice over LTE uptake is accelerating and traffic growth has reached levels we have not seen since 2013.”


He continued: “I am particularly excited to see the industry’s major steps to progress network evolution, including the approval of the non-standalone 5G new radio (NR) that will enable early 5G deployments. According to our forecast we anticipate that this will lead to more than half a billion 5G subscriptions and a population coverage 15 percent by 2022.”


According to the report, the dominant access technology will be LTE in 2018, making it the fastest-growing and “most pervasive” mobile technology in history.


In 2018, LTE (4G) will overtake GSM as the largest access technology by number of subscriptions. The speed with which this technology has been rolled out and adopted is unprecedented. It has taken only five years for LTE to cover 2.5 billion people, compared to eight years for WCDMA/HSPA, or 3G. In the first quarter of this year alone, 250 million new LTE subscriptions were added.


While LTE uptake is driven by demand for improved user experience and faster networks, 5G deployment will also be driven by the need for enhanced mobile broadband capabilities as well as industry solutions for efficiency and automation.


5G will be the one network to support a diversity of use cases. More than half a billion 5G subscriptions are expected to be activated by 2022, not including IoT connections. 5G is then expected to cover around 15 per cent of the world’s population.


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