Ericsson Forecasts Surge in Mobile Traffic, Data Over Next Six Years

1 - Ericsson Forecasts Surge in Mobile Traffic, Data Over Next Six Years
2 - Ericsson Mobility Report: Mobile Subscribers Q3
3 - Fastest-Growing Regions
4 - Mobile Broadband Subscriptions
5 - The Growth of LTE Subscriptions
6 - LTE in North America
7 - Data Traffic Growth
8 - Traffic Drivers
9 - User Behaviors, Use Drivers
10 - In-Building Coverage
11 - Peak Speeds Vary by City
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Ericsson Forecasts Surge in Mobile Traffic, Data Over Next Six Years

by Michelle Maisto

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Ericsson Mobility Report: Mobile Subscribers Q3

Mobile subscriptions grew by 113 million during the third quarter, bringing the global total to 6.6 billion. The actual number of subscribers, though (people have more than one subscription), is around 4.5 billion.

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Fastest-Growing Regions

China was the fastest-growing region, accounting for 30 million new mobile subscriptions, or about 25 percent of total new subscriptions. The whole of Africa contributed another 25 million; the Asia-Pacific region, minus China and India, contributed 24 million; and India alone added 10 million new mobile subscriptions during the quarter.

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Mobile Broadband Subscriptions

Total mobile broadband subscriptions exceeded 2 billion in 2013 and are expected to grow fourfold by 2019, to 8 billion. Mobile subscriptions are forecast to reach 9 billion by that time.

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The Growth of LTE Subscriptions

Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G networks are being built out in all regions. By 2019 it will reach around 2.6 billion mobile subscriptions from a total of 9.3 billion mobile subscriptions.

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LTE in North America

By 2019, 95 percent of the North American population will be covered by LTE, compared with 80 percent in 2012.

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Data Traffic Growth

High-speed networks like LTE will be necessary to support the coming spike in data usage. Over just the next year, data traffic is expected to grow by 80 percent, while voice traffic remains relatively steady.

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Traffic Drivers

North America and Western Europe account for a greater percentage of traffic than their subscription numbers would suggest. The reason: High-speed networks and data-rich devices encourage new habits, like viewing streaming video. Mobile video currently accounts for 35 percent of mobile traffic and is expected to grow to 50 percent by 2019.

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User Behaviors, Use Drivers

When users upgrade from feature phones to smartphones, new habits form, such as posting photos and videos on social-networking sites, instead of just text-based updates. People who subscribe to music- and video-streaming services can easily consume higher amounts of data than other phone users.

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In-Building Coverage

The majority of mobile traffic served over networks originates or is consumed indoors, or both. Ericsson ran three software simulations, investigating different approaches to coverage in high-rise buildings and found the addition of pico base stations to a macro network to be the most effective.

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Peak Speeds Vary by City

Ericsson studied a number of cities and found a "large difference" between the 10 percent (peak) and 90 percent probability downlink speeds. Users receiving 90 percent probability speeds are likely to be dissatisfied with service. "By monitoring cell-edge performance, operators are able to see which areas need attention to improve and maintain the user experience quality," said the report—no easy task (though an ongoing one) as apps, networks and devices all develop at the same time.

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