Ericsson: 3G, 4G networks to blanket most of the world by 2017

3G networks are expected to cover nearly the entire planet's population by 2017 -- thanks especially to a rise in M2M device subscriptions.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

Approximately 85 percent of the world's population will be covered with high-speed mobile internet by 2017, according to Ericsson's second Traffic and Market Report published on Tuesday.

That estimate specifically pertains to 3G coverage as Ericsson estimates there will be close to nine billion mobile subscriptions in the next five years, up from six billion at the end of 2011. Ericsson also attributes this increase to a rise in M2M device support and subscriptions as well.

Going hand-in-hand with those increases, Ericsson researchers also point out that just about everything is going mobile these days thanks both to the evolution of the cloud as well as consumer demand for having Internet access just about anywhere at anytime. Thus, that's putting pressure on the tech world to meet those demands as rapidly as possible.

Douglas Gilstrap, senior vice president and head of Ericsson's Strategy unit, added in the report that "people see access to the internet as a prerequisite for any device," whether it be a smartphone or a machine-to-machine platform.

This mindset results in growing demand for mobile broadband and increased data traffic. Operators recognize 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 75% of the HSPA networks worldwide have been upgraded to a peak speed of 7.2 Mbps or above and around 40% has been upgraded to 21 Mbps.

So 4G networks will figure in too. Ericsson researchers estimate that at least 50 percent of the globe will be covered by 4G in 2017 with mobile broadband subscriptions expected to hit five billion that year -- up fivefold from 2011. LTE/4G networks will be given a more significant boost from smartphone subscriptions, which are predicted to topple 3 billion by 2017, an incredible jump from 700 million in 2011.


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