WORLDWIDE mobile data usage is expected to grow twelve-fold by 2018 as the number of smartphones on the planet quadruples, according to research from Ericsson, the telecoms firm.
A report published by the Swedish company yesterday predicted that the proliferation of cheaper smartphones, along with higher disposable incomes in developing economies, means that the demand for mobile data will explode as consumers increasingly use their phones to browse the web and watch videos.
Ericsson forecast that 4.5bn smartphones will be in use in 2018, compared to 1.2bn at the end of 2012. The total number of mobile phones in use will rise from 6.3bn to 9.1bn, with the number of mobiles in use outstripping the population in the next few years.
Meanwhile, the average amount of data used by each of these smartphones will rise from 450 megabytes a month to 1.9 gigabytes. Once data use from tablets and laptops is factored in, global networks will have to cope with 14 exabytes per month in 2018 – roughly equivalent to 14bn gigabytes – compared to 1.2 exabytes at the end of 2012.
This increase is expected to place networks under a huge amount of strain, underlying the need to invest in 4G networks and hand over more of the airwaves for mobile data use.
Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, is planning to open up more radio frequency over the next few years in order to avoid mobile networks becoming overcrowded.