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Video Will Dominate Mobile Usage by 2020

The number of smartphones in use around the world will more than double over the next five years, from 2.6 billion in 2014 to 6.1 billion in 2020, according to a new forecast from network equipment manufacturer Ericsson. That means around 70% of the world’s population will have a smartphone by the latter date, with the bulk of  new mobile subscriptions (two billion) located in the Asia-Pacific region, and another 750 million in the Middle East and Africa.

Meanwhile the total number of connected devices of all kinds, including wearable devices, will soar to 26 billion worldwide over the same period. Mobile handset subscriptions of all kinds (including non-smartphones) will increase from 7.1 billion in 2014 to 9.2 billion in 2020.

Ericsson also predicts that by 2020, 90% of the world population will have access to mobile broadband networks, causing mobile data usage to soar. Worldwide smartphone data usage will increase fivefold, from one gigabyte per month in 2014 to 4.9 gigabytes in 2020, when smartphones will account for 80% of all global mobile data usage. Overall two out of three dollars spent on Internet services will go to mobile access rather than landline services five years from now.

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No surprise, video will lead the way, with mobile video traffic growing at a cumulative annual growth rate of 55% globally and accounting for 60% of all mobile data traffic by 2020. In North America the average monthly data consumption per smartphone user will jump from 2.4 gigabytes today -- which translates into around 10 hours of streaming video -- to 14 gigabytes per month in 2020.

The next wave of mobile data demands will lead to the emergence of a new “5G” standard in the developed world, with vastly expanded data capacity and new revenue opportunities for device makers and telecoms. Of course that’s good news for Ericsson too, since the company expects to play a central role in the expanding mobile data universe.

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