Nearly 40% of all mobile phones sold worldwide in 3Q were smartphones, with mobile data traffic doubling year-over-year in this year’s third quarter, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report.

Ericsson analysts forecast mobile data traffic will grow at around a 50% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2012 and 2018, driven in the main by increasing mobile video traffic. Online video makes up 25% of total smartphone traffic—the biggest component—and 40% of total tablet traffic worldwide. “This puts new requirements on networks to cater for quality anywhere, anytime,” they point out.

“Expectations of mobile-network quality have been elevated by the availability of smartphones and tablets that have changed the way we use the internet. 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,” commented Douglas Gilstrap, SVP and Head of Strategy.

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According to the report, total mobile subscriptions will reach 6.6 billion by the end of the year and 9.3 billion by end of 2018, That doesn’t include machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions.

Global Mobile Data Trends
Ericsson’s latest data dramatically illustrates that growth in mobile services is being driven by emerging/developing markets. Growth in China alone accounted for about 35% of net mobile subscriptions added globally in 3Q, totaling some 40 million. Brazil ranked second with 9 million, Indonesia third with 7 million new adds, with the Philippines ranking fourth with 5 million net new additions.

“Overall, global mobile penetration reached 91 percent in Q3 2012, and mobile subscriptions now total around 6.4 billion. Mobile subscriptions have grown by around 9 percent year-on-year and 2 percent quarter-on-quarter,” according to Ericsson’s analysis.

4G LTE Trends
Looking at 4G LTE, Ericsson estimates that some 455 million people around the world were in an LTE service coverage area. That’s expected to increase to include more than half the world’s population (approaching some 7 billion) within five years.

“LTE is the fastest-developing system in the history of mobile communications in terms of buildout and uptake,” Ericsson analysts point out. “LTE is currently being deployed and built out in all regions, and total subscriptions will increase from around 55 million at the end of 2012 to an estimated 1.6 billion in 2018. WCDMA/HSPA networks currently provide coverage to more than half the world’s population and continue to grow faster than LTE in terms of absolute numbers, adding 65 million subscriptions in Q3 2012 compared with 13 million for LTE.”

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