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Smartphones will be used by 70% of the world by 2020

Wednesday, June 3rd 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Nearly three quarters of the world’s population will be using smartphones by 2020, according to a new report.

Ericsson’s Mobility Report, published today, said that 70% of the world’s population will be using smartphones by 2020, and 90% will be covered by mobile broadband networks.

Smartphone subscriptions will more than double, reaching 6.1bn, the report said.

The report, described as a comprehensive update on mobile trends, suggests that growth in ‘mature markets’ comes from a growing number of devices per individual.

In developing regions, it comes from a swell of new subscribers as smartphones become more affordable, it suggests, predicting that almost 80% of new subscriptions will come from Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

The continued growth in the use of smartphones will be accompanied by an accelerated growth in data usage, the report said.

Smartphone data is predicted to increase 10-fold by 2020, accounting for 80% of all mobile data traffic.

North America and Europe will continue to have the highest data usage per smartphone, and average monthly data usage per smartphone in North America will increase from 2.4GB today to 14GB by 2020, according to the report.

Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer at Ericsson, said: “This immense growth in advanced mobile technology and data usage, driven by a surge in mobile connectivity and smartphone uptake, will makes today's big data revolution feel like the arrival of a floppy disk.

'Wealth of opportunities'

“We see the potential for mass-scale transformation, bringing a wealth of opportunities for telecom operators and others to capture new revenue streams.

“But it also requires greater focus on cost efficient delivery and openness to new business models to compete and remain effective.”

The Mobility Report suggests that mobile video traffic will grow by 55% per year each year until 2020, and will make up around 60% of all mobile data traffic by the end of that period.

That growth is driven by a shift towards streaming services and the rise in use of video in online content including news, advertisements and social media.

An analysis of data consumption in ‘advanced mobile broadband markets’ suggests that a significant proportion of traffic is generated by a limited number of heavy users, the research found.

Those heavy users represent 10% of total subscribers, but generate 55% of total data traffic.

Video is dominant among heavy users, who typically watch around one hour of video per day – 20 times more than the average user, the research suggested.

In January, Cable.co.uk reported Ericsson’s prediction the number of connected devices in the world would reach 50bn, with a fifth generation (5G) mobile network being the platform that connects “everything, anywhere".

Speaking to Cable.co.uk at International CES, Ramneek Bali, a technical solutions manager at the company, said it would be a 5G network that enables the developments championed at the show – from connected devices and cars to watching TV on mobile devices.

A fifth generation network (5G) is expected to reach commercial mobile networks around 2020, with some experts predicting it will deliver data transfer rates 100 times faster than current 4G networks.

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