LTE subscribers are set to top the 1 billion mark by 2017, and the technology will be available to 60% of the world's population by 2018, Ericsson predicts.
The latest edition of the vendor's Mobility Report also finds that the LTE and smartphone boom is driving a 60% annual growth in mobile video consumption.
Smartphone users surpassed 1.2 billion in 2012, and accounted for roughly half of all mobile handset sales in Q1 2013, the report estimates. The global telecom sector is on pace to reach 4.5 billion smartphone subscriptions by the end of 2018.
Total mobile subscriptions grew 8% year-on-year in Q1, Ericsson estimates. WCDMA/HSPA added around 60 million subscriptions, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions grew by around 30 million, and LTE subscriptions increased by some 20 million.
Faster networks and the functionality of smartphones are driving a surge in video traffic. Already the largest segment of data traffic in networks, some networks average a video consumption of 2.6GB per subscription per month.
On the bright side, consumers spend more time browsing social networks through mobile devices than they do watching bandwidth-straining video content.