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Mobile data traffic to grow 10X by 2016, report says

Worldwide smartphone traffic will triple in 2011 and mobile data will grow 10-fold through 2016, according to a new Ericsson report.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

There will be a 10-fold increase in mobile data traffic by 2016, according to a new report from Swedish telecom giant Ericsson.

According to the company's Traffic and Market Data report, total smartphone traffic is expected to triple during 2011, and mobile broadband subscriptions will grow 60 percent year-over-year through 2016, from an expected 900 million by the end of this year to almost five billion.

The company said it recorded data over several years in live networks covering all regions of the world to come up with its conclusions.

More highlights:

  • Video will be the primary driver of the 60 percent annual mobile data growth through 2016, but smartphones and applications will certainly help.
  • Urban areas will dominate: as the world's population urbanizes and densifies, areas with less than 1 percent of the Earth's total land area will generate 60 percent of total mobile traffic. (Good news if you're in the business of building and supporting telecom infrastructure.)
  • There is strong momentum for smartphone adoption in all regions of the world, Ericcson says. Traffic generated by "advanced smartphones" will increase 12-fold to equal mobile PC-generated traffic by 2016.

As you might suspect, most of the growth is in developing nations. Take a look at this chart, which shows how marginal Western Europe and North America will be in fueling future mobile growth:

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