In Ericsson's latest Mobility Report, the firm found that LTE adoption and smartphones are continuing to drive video streaming and traffic.
Ericsson predicts that due to the expansion of mobile technology, mobile-data traffic will continue to grow significantly. By 2018, mobile traffic is expected to multiply tenfold -- which is likely to put pressure on mobile carriers that do not have enough spectrum resources available to cope with increasing demand.
The communications firm says that worldwide global smartphone subscriptions hit the 1.2 billion mark in 2012, and predicts that by the end of 2018, there will be 4.5 billion smartphone users across the globe.
Smartphones accounted for approximately 50 percent of all mobile-phone sales in Q1 2013, in comparison with roughly 40 percent for the whole of 2012.
Driven by the adoption of LTE networks, High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) protocols used in 3G and steadily improving speeds, the report found that video traffic is growing by 60 percent on a yearly basis. In the Q1 2012 - Q1 2013 timeframe, mobile-data traffic doubled. Most of this data usage is created by social network presence, and some users spend up to 85 minutes per day on sites including Facebook and Twitter. Video remains popular; websites including YouTube contributing to a mobile usage average of 2.6GB per subscription in some networks.
Whether using a smartphone, tablet, eBook or camera, the fastest growing segment in mobile data traffic is video. The vast amount of content available -- YouTube alone accounting for 72 hours of video upload a minute and 4 billion hours watched each month -- coupled with rising mobile network speed and larger screens available on mobile devices are all contributing to the trend.
The number of total mobile subscriptions grew by eight percent globally year-on-year by Q1 2013. Out of these new subscriptions, WCDMA/HSPA added around 60 million subscriptions, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions grew by roughly 30 million, and LTE contributed with approximately 20 million new subscriptions. As a result, mobile broadband subscriptions rocketed by 45 percent year-on-year, reaching roughly 1.7 billion users.
Douglas Gilstrap, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy at Ericsson, commented:
"LTE services will be available to about 60 percent of the world's population in 2018. We expect LTE subscriptions to exceed 1 billion in 2017, driven by more capable devices and demand for data-intensive services such as video. Owing to the build out of WCDMA/HSPA, network speeds have improved, and so has the user experience."
Image credit: Ericsson | James Martin/CNET News