LTE and video go hand in hand, as improved network speeds will help drive 60 percent annual growth in video traffic on mobile networks through 2018, according to the latest edition of the Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) Mobility Report. Further, the vendor expects overall data traffic will grow 12-fold by the end of 2018.
Video consumption averages 2.6 GB per subscription per month in some networks. "Increasing usage is driven by continual growth in the amount of content available as well as the improved network speeds that come with HSPA and LTE development," said Ericsson.
Ericsson noted its latest forecast indicates a stronger uptake of smartphone and LTE subscriptions, including a notable increase in the number of smartphone subscriptions in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Specifically, the vendor's LTE subscriptions forecast increased to 2 billion in 2018, up from its earlier forecast of 1.6 billion. Ericsson predicts 60 percent of the world's population will be covered by LTE in 2018.
LTE will represent the majority of subscriptions in North America in 2016, growing to around 70 percent in 2018. In Western Europe, LTE will penetrate around 35 percent of the subscriptions base in 2018, said Ericsson.
The company said a downlink throughput of 10 Mbps delivers a very good user experience, enabling higher quality video streaming and real-time video conferencing. Using data from the Speedtest app from Ookla during March, Ericsson calculated the percentage of measurements with a given downlink throughput or greater. The statistics included all radio access technologies except Wi-Fi.
In North America, 31 percent of connections achieved speeds of at least 10 Mbps. The second-ranked region was the Middle East, where 27 percent of connections reached the 10 Mbps milestone, followed by Western Europe with 17 percent achieving that downlink speed.
By the first quarter of 2013, total mobile subscriptions exceeded 6.4 billion, and Ericsson predicts they will reach 9.1 billion by the end of 2018. Further, global mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to reach 7 billion in 2018, up from 1.7 billion in first-quarter 2013.
"The majority of mobile broadband devices are, and will continue to be, smartphones. Mobile broadband will gain a larger share of total broadband subscriptions in many markets, complementing xDSL in certain segments and replacing it in others. Mobile broadband also includes some feature phones," said Ericsson.
Smartphones accounted for about half of all mobile phone sales during the first three months of this year. Total global smartphone subscriptions hit the 1.2 billion mark in 2012 and are due to reach 4.5 billion by the end of 2018, according to the vendor.
Though video makes up the largest segment of data traffic in networks, Ericsson's report said smartphone users actually spend most of their time on social networks, generating an average usage of 85 minutes a day in some networks.
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