50pc of world’s pop will be covered by high-speed 4G internet by 2017

5 Jun 2012

In 2017, some 85pc of the world’s population will have 3G coverage while 50pc of the world’s population will have 4G coverage. A new report by Ericsson predicts there will be 3bn smartphone subscribers by 2017.

This year, mobile subscriptions reached 6.2bn in Q1 and 170m new mobile subscriptions were added during the quarter.

Mobile broadband subscriptions, meanwhile, are forecast to reach 5bn in 2017, compared to 1bn by the end of 2011.

“Today, people see access to the internet as a prerequisite for any device,” Douglas Gilstrap, senior vice-president and head of Strategy, Ericsson, said.

“This mindset results in growing demand for mobile broadband and increased data traffic. Operators recognise this business opportunity and are aiming to facilitate this growth and provide good user experience with fast data speeds through high-capacity networks. Today, around 75pc of the HSPA networks worldwide have been upgraded to a peak speed of 7.2Mbps or above and around 40pc has been upgraded to 21 Mbps.”

In the report, Ericsson also predicts that by 2017 half of the world’s population will be covered by LTE/4G networks. Smartphone subscriptions will number around 3bn in 2017 – compared to 700m in 2011.

Prime driver of mobile data traffic growth driven by video

Total mobile data traffic continues to increase – between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012 data traffic doubled – and the prime driver is video. Smartphones are also, and will remain, a key data traffic driver. The mobile data traffic will grow by 15 times between 2011 and 2017.

The data in the report also shows variations between countries and regions. In the case of mobile net additions, China added the most subscriptions for a single country in Q1 2012 with 39m, followed by India with 25m. The Asia Pacific region added in total 93m subscriptions, followed by Africa with 30m.

The main continuous trend identified in the report is that everything is going mobile. This evolution is mainly being driven by people’s increasing demand for anywhere, anytime connectivity and the use of video, cloud-based services and the internet – but also by machine-to-machine connectivity.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years