Ericsson’s research reveals that mobile data traffic doubled between 2011-2012 and is predicted to grow at least 12 times in the next six years.
The Swedish communications technology and service provider said that online video was the major contributor to mobile traffic volumes, representing a quarter of total smartphone traffic and 40% of overall tablet traffic.
Data traffic is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of around 50% between 2012 and 2018, with video accounting for the most of the traffic.
"Expectations of mobile-network quality have been elevated by the availability of smartphones and tablets that have changed the way we use the internet," said Douglas Gilstrap, senior vice president and head of strategy at Ericsson. "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."
Ericsson, which claims that more than 40% of global mobile traffic travels through their network, said mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 6.6 billion by the end of the year and 9.3 billion by the end of 2018.
Mobile subscriptions have grown 9% year-on-year with global mobile penetration growing to 91% in Q3 2012.
The research suggests that rapid growth of mobile data consumption puts new requirements on networks to be able to deliver quality services to consumers.
Earlier this week, Ofcom announced it is already preparing for future mobile data demand with plans for a 5G service.
Ofcom predicts the demand could be 80 times higher than is today by 2030 and is working to avoid a possible 'capacity crunch.'
The UK communications authority plans to utilise some spectrum in the 700MHz band for future digital services.
"Within the coming months we will hold the UK's largest-ever auction of mobile spectrum for 4G," said Ed Richards, Ofcom's Chief Executive. "However, that may not be enough to meet consumers' future data demands, which is why we are already making significant efforts to prepare to go beyond 4G."
While Ofcom is preparing to address the growing demand of mobile data, some says that more needs to done than simply providing extra airwaves to avoid a capacity crunch.
"The latest figures from Ofcom once again emphasize the fact that more people than ever before are consuming huge amounts of data on the move," Bruce Girdlestone, Senior Business Development Manager at Virgin Media Business told CBR."While it's encouraging to see that Ofcom is being proactive by planning to make more spectrum available, extra airwaves alone won't solve the problem of bulging mobile networks."
"Mobile network operators will almost certainly welcome the news of more available spectrum, but they'll also be looking to make sure they have maximum bandwidth between their cell sites by taking advantage of fibre networks."
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