There will be 1.6bn LTE subscriptions in 2018, growing from around 55m at the end of 2012, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.
It is the fastest growing communication system in history, increasing from just 8.8m subscriptions identified by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database in 2011, and is being deployed in all regions of the world. There were an additional 13m LTE subscriptions in Q3 2012 alone.
9.3bn mobile by 2018
40 per cent of all phones sold in Q3 2012 were smartphones, with total mobile subscriptions expected to reach 6.6bn by the end of the year and 9.3bn in 2018.
China added 40m subscriptions in Q3, with Brazil adding 9m, Indonesia increasing by 7m and the Philippines having 5m net additions. Global mobile penetration reached 91 per cent, growing 9 per cent year-on-year and 2 per cent quarter-on-quarter.
The report said that this growth in data-hungry users puts new requirements on networks to cater for quality anywhere and anytime. Smartphone data traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 50 per cent between 2012 and 2018, driven mainly by video. Online video already contributes 25 per cent of total smartphone traffic and 40 per cent of total tablet traffic.
Excpectations of quality
3G networks currently provide the most coverage, serving more than half the world's population, and it continues to grow more quickly than LTE in terms of absolute numbers, adding 65m subscriptions in Q3 2012.
"Expectations of mobile-network quality have been elevated by the availability of smartphones and tablets that have changed the way we use the internet,” said Douglas Gilstrap, senior VP and head of strategy at Ericsson.
“Mobility is becoming an increasingly significant part of our daily lives; we always have devices within arm's reach, allowing us instant access to information, entertainment and social interaction."
Ads eat data
The advertisements placed in free versions of apps lead to higher data consumption and an increased number of requests to access networks, said the report. This traffic could exceed the cost of the premium version of the app.
These ads also increased battery consumption by 25 per cent compared with the premium version.