Mobile data traffic growth was almost 79% year on year in the third quarter of 2018, according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report.
The increase, the highest since 2013, was driven by increased data traffic per smartphone in northeast Asia, which includes China, the report said. The region experienced per smartphone growth of about 140% between the end of 2017 and this year and now averages 7.3 gigabytes of data traffic per smartphone. That is the second highest of any region. It is beaten only by North America, which has 8.6 gigabytes per smartphone per month.
Mobile data traffic is expected to increase by a factor of five between this year and 2024 and 5G networks will carry a quarter of that traffic by the end of the time frame.
“As 5G now hits the market, its coverage build-out and uptake in subscriptions are projected to be faster than for previous generations,” Fredrik Jejdling, the Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks for Ericsson, said in a press release. “At the same time, cellular IoT continues to grow strongly. What we are seeing is the start of fundamental changes that will impact not just the consumer market but many industries.”
Mobile Data Traffic Growth
The report also looked at 5G growth. By the end of 2024, 5G will cover more than 40% of the global population and support 1.5 billion subscribers for enhanced mobile broadband. The drivers will be increased network capacity, lower cost per gigabyte and new use cases. North America and northeast Asia will lead the uptake. Fifty-five percent of mobile subscriptions in North America will be 5G by the end of 2024, researchers said.
Ericsson said that Northeast Asia is expected to account for 2.7 of the 4.1 billion NB-IoT and Cat-M1 cellular IoT connections predicted in 2024.
Mobile data traffic growth has been ramping up for a while. Last year, the CTIA said that 13.72 trillion megabytes of mobile data were sent to mobile devices in the U.S. in 2016. That was 4 trillion MGB more than the previous year and 35 times the amount sent in 2010.