Ericsson Predicts 10 Times Growth in Mobile Data Traffic by 2015

by Yuyutsu Sen on November 9, 2011

Swedish telecommunication and data communication systems provider Ericsson is the latest company to enter the mobile and broadband data prediction game. According to the gear maker, by year 2015 mobile data traffic will be 3.5 exabytes per month, which is ten times more than present. Ericsson’s forecast does not coincide with that made by Cisco in February. The report released by Cisco indicated that by 2015 mobile data traffic will be 6.3 exabytes per month, which is double the number estimated by Ericsson.

Both the gear makers seem to have adopted opposing tactics to communicate with potential customers. While Ericsson’s approach is relaxed, the Visual Networking Index released by Cisco generated panic among operators. However, the main aim of both the telecommunications equipment providers remains same – encouraging operators to keep moving on the path of upgrades.

Unlike other companies in the industry, Ericsson does not believe that the existing telecommunication networks will be overwhelmed by growing demand. According to Ericsson mobile broadband expert Tomas Sandin, although the there is need for better coverage, the networks are coping. Ericsson further indicated that mobile data traffic was likely to be divided equally between tablets and PCs on one side and smartphones on the other by 2016.

In spite of the lowered traffic growth expectations, the Swedish gear maker does not completely overlook the problems that operators are likely to face because of the growth. Ericsson’s approach differs from that of Cisco in this regards as well. While the latter is focusing on the overall growth in traffic, Ericsson is focusing on where this traffic is likely to be concentrated – heavily populated urban areas.

The report indicates that 30% of people in the world will be concentrated in urban areas and metros by 2016. Metros are areas where the density of population is over 1000 individuals per square kilometer. These areas are likely to generate almost 60% of mobile traffic, although the total land area represented by them is less than 1%. In areas like San Francisco and New York City, the effects of mobile traffic exposition are already evident in the form of unavailability of good data rates and difficulties in making calls.

To tackle this issue, AT&T has started adding Wi-Fi hotspots to densely populated regions. Coexistence of Wi-Fi, cellular and other networks in such a manner that customers are able to move between them seamlessly is probably the best possible solution for mobile traffic explosion.

Ericsson’s report offers many interesting statistics. By 2016, mobile subscriptions are likely to cross the 8 billion mark. This does not include growth from other connected devices and M2M. In the last quarter, worldwide mobile penetration reached 82%. The total number of mobile subscriptions at present is 5.8 billion, but as several subscribers have multiple subscriptions, 3.9 billion is the actual number of subscribers. Subscriptions for mobile broadband have reached 900 million with 60% year-on-year growth. On an average in a month the highest traffic volume per subscription is observed in mobile PCs (3G) followed by tablets (250-800MB) and smartphones (80-600MB).

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Written by: Yuyutsu Sen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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