85% of world population to have 3G by 2017, says Ericsson

Swedish infrastructure firm Ericsson has predicted that by 2017, there will be more than five billion mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide, by which point 85 per cent of the world’s population will have 3G coverage.

The Swedish vendor said that by this time, 50 per cent of the world’s population will be covered by 4G and the total number of smartphone subscriptions will reach three billion.

The firm recently conducted its Traffic and Market Report, which revealed that there were 6.2 billion mobile subscriptions, and 170 million net additions, made in the first quarter of 2012. 40 per cent of those net additions came from China and India; China added the most subscriptions for a single country in Q1 2012 with 39 million, followed by India with 25 million. The Asia Pacific region added in total 93 million subscriptions, followed by Africa with 30 million.

According to the vendor’s research, 35 to 40 per cent of handsets sold during 1Q12 were smartphones, yet just 10 to 15 per cent of the total user base currently has a smartphone.

The report also offered an insight for operators into what to expect for the future. By 2017, laptop users are expected to be consuming 8GB of data per month on average, tablet users will use 3.2GB per month and smartphone users are expected to use 1.1GB per month on average. By this point, 60 per cent of traffic coming from metro and urban areas, the vendor claimed.

“Today, people see access to the internet as a prerequisite for any device. This mindset results in growing demand for mobile broadband and increased data traffic,” said Douglas Gilstrap, SVP and head of strategy at Ericsson.

“Operators recognise this business opportunity and are aiming to facilitate this growth and provide good user experience with fast data speeds through high capacity networks. Today, around 75 per cent of the HSPA networks worldwide have been upgraded to a peak speed of 7.2 Mbps or above and around 40 per cent has been upgraded to 21 Mbps.”

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