Global mobile data traffic doubled in the last year: Ericsson

  • Mobile data grows aided by smartphone growth; up-trend to continue this year
  • Analyst says mobile broadband continues to be single largest opportunity for telcos to claw back revenue

THE mobile world continues to grow unabated thanks to a confluence of factors including the phenomenal growth of smartphones and the continuing reliance on data connections by consumers and enterprises, notes telco giant Ericsson.
In an update of its Mobility Report first released in November last year, the Swedish telco gear-maker noted that global mobile penetration reached 89% in the last quarter of 2012. Mobile subscriptions, on the other hand, totaled approximately 6.3 billion, although the actual number of subscribers stood at only about 4.4 billion due to multiple subscriptions.
Global mobile data traffic doubled in the last year: EricssonThe report also noted that mobile subscriptions have grown around 9% year-on-year and 2% quarter-on-quarter (click diagram to enlarge). China alone accounted for about 22% of net additions, adding around 30 million subscriptions, followed by India (11 million), Bangladesh (9 million), Indonesia (8 million), and Nigeria (5 million).
In Q4 2012 alone, mobile broadband subscriptions grew from about 125 million to 1.5 billion, reflecting a 50% year-on-year increase, the report added. Underpinning this growth was the strong momentum of smartphone uptake as approximately 40% of all mobile phones sold last year were smartphones compared with around 30% the previous year.
On an overall global scale, the global mobile data traffic doubled between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012 and it experienced a quarterly growth of 28%.
From a technology standpoint, the number of GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE subscriptions grew to about 44 million while WCDMA/ HSPA subscribers grew by about 70 million. Together these technologies represent about 80% net additions. Meanwhile, LTE subscriptions grew from 14 million to 57 million.
Ericsson said its mobile data are measurements are taken over several years using a large base of commercial networks that together cover all regions of the world. The data then forms a representative base for calculating world total traffic in mobile networks.
Mobile data promise
Separately, Ovum noted that mobile broadband continues to present the single largest opportunity for telcos to claw back revenue, as forecasts show mobile broadband growing 19.2% annually and generating US$122.9 billion in incremental revenue between 2013 and 2016.
The London-based research firm said other segments with double-digit revenue growth over the next five years include public cloud, enterprise Ethernet, IPTV, and managed/ hosted IP voice.
“The recovery from the 2009 recession has been weak, and the ongoing global fiscal crisis continues to present a risk to the telecom industry,” said John Lively, chief forecaster at Ovum.
“Over the next three to four years, both fixed and mobile operators will face the same fundamental challenge: to increase new sources of revenue fast enough to offset the decline in mature services.”

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