There will be over six billion smartphones in use across the world by 2020 as mobile broadband networks reach 90 percent of the global population, according to a report by Ericsson.
The company said that such widespread access to mobile network services means that 70 percent of the world’s population will become smartphone owners by 2020, with the biggest growth set to take place in Asia Pacific.
Ericsson expects almost two billion of the forecast 3.5 billion new mobile subscriptions to come from Asia Pacific, while another 750 million will come from the Middle East and Africa.
All areas will see some form of growth, and a total of 6.1 billion smartphone subscriptions is expected by 2020, as the chart below shows.
The biggest users of mobile data will still be North America and Western Europe. Video traffic will be the primary driver of this, with predicted growth of 55 percent a year until 2020.
This will lead to a huge increase in average data use. Ericsson said that it expects this to grow from 2.4GB a month in 2015 to 14GB in 2020, a huge seven-fold increase.
Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer at Ericsson, explained that this predicted growth in mobile data use and mobile phone ownership by 2020 will make current data use seem prosaic.
"Immense growth in advanced mobile technology and data use, driven by a surge in mobile connectivity and smartphone uptake, will make today's big data revolution feel like the arrival of a floppy disk,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, given Ericsson’s position in the telecoms space, Qureshi said that telecoms firms must see this expected growth as an opportunity.
“We see the potential for mass-scale transformation, bringing a wealth of opportunities for telecoms operators and others to capture new revenue streams," she explained.
"But it also requires a greater focus on cost efficient delivery and openness to new business models to compete and remain effective.”
Ericsson is predicting huge growth between now and 2020, and the year after that is likely to see even bigger mobile data use as 5G networks arrive offering much faster services with increased capacity to boot.
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