Ericsson predicts around 90 per cent of the world's population aged six years and above will have a mobile phone by 2020, by which point smartphone subscriptions are also expected to hit 6.1 billion from 2.7 billion today.
The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, which provides regular updates on mobile trends, also estimates there will be some 800 million new smartphone subscriptions in 2014 as a whole; 65-70 per cent of all phones sold in the third quarter of 2014 were smartphones, compared with 55 per cent in the same quarter of 2013.
"The falling cost of handsets, coupled with improved usability and increasing network coverage, are factors that are making mobile technology a global phenomenon that will soon be available to the vast majority of the world's population, regardless of age or location," said Rima Qureshi, senior vice president, chief strategy officer and head of M&A at Ericsson.
However, the report noted there is still plenty of room for growth: smartphones currently account for just 37 per cent of all mobile phone subscriptions.
Meanwhile video continues to dominate mobile networks, accounting for 45-55 per cent of mobile traffic on LTE networks. As well as streaming services, video is increasingly appearing as part of other online applications such as news and adverts, and on social media platforms.
At the same time, growth in video streaming is being driven by access to over-the-top (OTT) services and content, such as those provided by YouTube.
Ericsson estimates that mobile video traffic will increase tenfold by 2020, to account for around 55 per cent of all mobile data traffic in 2020.
Meanwhile Ericsson also reiterated that 5G networks are expected to appear from around 2020, and said the technology is predicted to have a faster uptake than LTE, or 4G.
- see the full Ericsson Mobility Report
Google's Android remains dominant in Q3, but challenges emerge
Xiaomi becomes world's No. 3 smartphone vendor by market share
Dell'Oro: Worldwide telco capex to decline $6B in 2015
ABI Research: LTE reinvigorates the broadband wireless access marketplace
Qualcomm exec: Smartphones now app developers first port of call