Study: Huge increases in smartphone subscriptions and data usage by 2020

Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are barely at the start of the smartphone revolution. New figures from a quarterly research report by Ericsson, however, put today’s numbers into sharp relief.

According to Ericsson, over the next six years smartphone subscriptions around the world will increase from the current estimate of 1.9 billion to 5.6 billion. Furthermore, people will be using their smartphones more intensely, with monthly traffic per active subscription increasing from 600MB today to over 2GB by 2019.

The consequences for the global economy of this growth are stunning. As we noted in an earlier report into disruption technology, “The integration of billions of new consumers from the developing world into the global digital economy will create between $US3 trillion and $US10 trillion dollars of world economic benefit thanks to mobile internet technologies, according to McKinsey and Company.

You will find more statistics at Statista

This, of course, all translates into a tenfold increase in monthly smartphone traffic — from one exabyte per month this year to almost ten exabytes within six years.

The consequences for the global economy of this growth are stunning. As we noted in an earlier report into disruption technology, “The integration of billions of new consumers from the developing world into the global digital economy will create between $US3 trillion and $US10 trillion dollars of world economic benefit thanks to mobile internet technologies, according to McKinsey and Company.

As TelecomLead noted in its report, “Asia Pacific will have a high share of the total mobile traffic both in 2013 and 2019. The main reason for this is the rapid growth in subscriptions. China alone will add over 500 million mobile subscriptions. There are large differences in usage volumes and patterns within Asia Pacific, with countries such as South Korea and Japan deploying LTE early, whereas other countries are still dominated by GSM networks.

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Unsurprisingly, the study finds that video is the major application driver of data consumption (apart from sheer growth in the network).

The largest and fastest-growing mobile data traffic segment is video,” says the report. “It is expected to increase by around 55 percent annually up until the end of 2019, by which point it is forecasted to account for more than 50 percent of global mobile traffic.

The study also found that streaming on-demand and time-shifted content, including YouTube, is growing and is no longer simply the preserve of early adopters. For instance, the research found that as many as 41 percent of people aged between 65 and 69 stream video content over mobile and fixed networks on at least a weekly basis.

Ericsson also found that web browsing and social networking will each maintain their roughly ten per cent share of traffic through to 2019, “even though a typical web page will increase in data volume and social networking increasingly will include data-rich content.

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