Video To Dominate Mobile Data Traffic In Four Years, Says Ericsson

If you thought smartphones were ubiquitous now — and in certain places they pretty much are — prepare for a whole lot more people to be coming online on their phones in the next five years. Network kit maker Ericsson has published its latest mobility report, based on traffic measurements of live mobile networks, which projects that global smartphone subscriptions will rise from 1.2 billion in 2012 to 4.5 billion by the end of 2018 — a CAGR of 25 percent.

Ericsson is also expecting the monthly mobile data usage per smartphone to rise from 450MB in 2012 to 1,900MB by 2018. Even larger growth is on the cards for tablets, with monthly data usage forecast to rise from 600MB in 2012 to 3,100MB in 2018 — a CAGR of 30 percent. By 2018, Ericsson also reckons LTE (4G) will cover 60 percent of the world’s population. As for the mobile data driver, it’s video — with video growth underpinned by increasing availability of faster networks as LTE spreads. Larger devices with bigger screens with higher resolutions are also causing users to gobble up more MB, according to Ericsson:

The fastest growing segment in mobile data traffic is video. Increasing usage is driven by continual growth in the amount of available content as well as the better network speeds that come with HSPA and LTE development. Larger device screens and better resolutions will also drive video traffic as they will enable high definition and eventually even ultra high definition video.

Ericsson’s data shows video makes up the largest segment of mobile data traffic today — and is expected to grow by around 60 percent annually until the end of 2018 when it’s forecast to account for about half of total global traffic, dominating mobile content consumption. Good news if you’re Vine, then.

The data also shows music streaming gaining in popularity — with a projected annual growth rate of around 50 percent, although Ericsson notes there is a “high degree of uncertainty” in the audio forecast because it’s “very dependent on how music streaming services develop over the coming years.” So that likely refers to stuff like Apple being rumoured to get into the streaming space, and the knock on effect a Cupertino iRadio could have on other services, should it indeed come to pass as rumoured.

On the social and web front, Ericsson reckons web browsing and social networking will each constitute around 10 percent of the total data traffic volume in 2018 — so achieving some sort of parity, even if social networking still ends up taking up more of mobile users’ time and therefore more mindshare. According to Ericsson’s data, smartphone users are spending the largest portion of their time on social networks: an average of 85 minutes a day in some networks.


Ericsson has also broken out mobile traffic by device type, to give a breakdown of what different devices are being used for right now, which shows how quickly video has established itself on tablets — passing smartphones video volumes already. The latter device type remains the most popular device for social networking, which dovetails with how personal smartphones are vs tablets and laptops which can be shared within groups and families:

ericsson mobility report