Mobile subscriptions to exceed world population

Mobile subscriptions to exceed world population

Total mobile subscriptions are expected to exceed the world’s population over the next few years, according to data from telecoms equipment vendor Ericsson.

The Ericsson Mobility Report forecasts that global mobile subscriptions will reach 6.6 billion by the end of 2012 and total 9.3 billion by the end of 2018, not including M2M subscriptions.

This growth is being driven by emerging markets like China, which accounted for 35% of net additions during Q3 2012, at 40 million additional subscriptions; Brazil with nine million additions; Indonesia with seven million additions; and the Philippines with five million additions during the same period, according to the report.

Global mobile penetration is forecast to have reached 91% during the same period with mobile subscriptions now totaling 6.4 billion, growing 9% year on year and 2% quarter on quarter.

The report found that mobile data traffic had doubled between Q3 2011 and Q3 2012 and is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of approximately 50% between 2012 and 2018, mainly driven by video.

Increasing video use was found to be supported by the adoption of smartphones, which equaled 40% of all phones sold in Q3 2012.

The vendor said that video accounted for 25% of total smartphone traffic and 40% of total tablet traffic and argued that this put new requirements on networks to cater for quality anywhere and anytime.

"Expectations of mobile-network quality have been elevated by the availability of smartphones and tablets that have changed the way we use the internet. 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, SVP and head of strategy at Ericsson.


Figure 1:
Application mobile data traffic volumes by device type

LTE was forecast to be the fastest developing system in the history of mobile communications in terms of build-out and uptake with more than half of the world’s population expected to benefit from LTE coverage within five years, according to Ericsson.

The vendor estimated that 455 million people had LTE coverage globally by mid-2012 and forecast that total subscriptions will increase from approximately 55 million at the end of 2012 to 1.6 billion in 2018.

WCDMA/HSPA networks, which provide coverage to more than half the world’s population, were found to be continuing to grow faster than LTE in terms of total numbers, adding 65 million subscriptions in Q3 2012 compared with 13 million for LTE.


Figure 2:
Mobile Subscriptions by technology, 2009-2018

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