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Carriers ‘face 282EB a month demand’ for mobile data by 2027

Ericsson mobility 2022.jpg

Total global mobile data traffic will quadruple in the next five years to reach 282 exabytes a month, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report.

The report, published today, says that mobile data traffic was 67 exabytes (EB) a month at the end of 2021 and will grow by a factor of 4.2 over the next five years.

That excludes fixed wireless access (FWA), says the report. That sector added another 17EB a month in late 2021, taking the total traffic carried by wireless technology to 84EB a month.

“Video traffic is estimated to account for 69% of all mobile data traffic, a share that is forecast to increase to 79% in 2027,” says the report.

Fredrik Jejdling, head of Ericsson’s networks business area, commented: “Global mobile network data traffic has doubled in the last two years, driven by continuing growth in smartphone usage, mobile broadband and now the digitalization of societies and industries.”

One of the factors that is helping the rise of data is the rapid growth of 5G: there will be more than 1 billion mobile subscriptions this year, says the report.

“The monthly average usage per smartphone is expected to pass 15GB in 2022,” the report notes.

The figures show that 2G and 3G connections are in decline and even 4G has now reached a plateau. Meanwhile 5G is still relatively small but is growing fast – faster than 4G did in its early years, says Ericsson.

FWA is predominantly 4G, with a small amount of 5G, but together they will connect 100 million customers by the end of 2022, says the report, and 200 million in 2026.

Jejdling said: “Older technologies are being replaced by continuous build-out of 4G and 5G networks, substantially improving network performance and energy efficiency with each generation. 5G technologies play a key role in modernization, providing multiples of capacity while becoming more energy efficient.”

There are strong regional differences, says the report. In sub-Saharan Africa the average monthly mobile data usage per smartphone was 3GB. In the Gulf Cooperation Council countries where it was 22GB per smartphone in 2021.

The global monthly average usage per smartphone was 12GB by the end of 2021 and is forecast to reach 40GB by the end of 2027, says Ericsson.

But new services are expected to drive data growth in North America, where the average monthly mobile data usage per smartphone is expected to reach 52GB in 2027.

A PDF of the full report is here