Mobile data traffic increased nearly 300 fold in 10 years.

Ericsson’s global insights reveal an almost 300-fold increase in mobile data traffic since 2011 – the year the Ericsson Mobility Report was first published. The findings, based on current and historical network data, are included in the special ten-year edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report November 2021. The report looks back at some of the key trends and events that have defined the past decade and reveals the latest projections for the period up to 2027.

The assumption that 5G will become the fastest-deployed mobile generation to date has been bolstered with an updated estimate of nearly 660 million 5G subscriptions by the end of this year. The increase is due to stronger than expected demand in China and North America, partly driven by falling prices of 5G devices. There was also a net addition of 98 million 5G subscriptions worldwide in Q3 2021, compared to 48 million new 4G subscriptions. By the end of 2021, 5G networks are estimated to cover more than two billion people.

According to the latest predictions, 5G is on track to become the dominant mobile access technology by 2027, based on the number of subscriptions worldwide. 5G is also expected to account for about 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions worldwide, cover 75 percent of the world’s population, and carry 62 percent of global smartphone traffic by 2027.

Mobile data traffic increased nearly 300 fold in 10 years

Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson, said: “Mobile communications have had an incredible impact on society and business over the past decade. As we look ahead to 2027, mobile networks will more than ever play an integral role in the way we interact, live and work. Our latest Ericsson Mobility Report shows that the pace of change is accelerating, with technology playing a crucial role.”

Since 2011, the roll-out of 4G LTE networks has been instrumental in generating 5.5 billion new smartphone connections worldwide, contributing to the market availability of more than 20,000 different 4G device models. This report points to a much earlier technology lifecycle for 5G devices, with 5G handsets accounting for 23 percent of global volumes today, compared to 8 percent of 4G handsets at the corresponding point in their lifecycle.

Mobile data traffic increased nearly 300 fold in 10 years

This contributes to an exponential growth of mobile data traffic. Mobile network data traffic increased 42 percent (year-over-year) in the third quarter of 2021 and accounted for approximately 78 exabytes (EB), including traffic generated by Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services. In Q3 alone, mobile data traffic exceeded all mobile traffic ever generated through the end of 2016. New projections show that total data traffic over mobile networks will likely reach 370 EB by the end of 2027.

The report also shows that the nature of mobile connections is changing rapidly, contributing to the continued increase in mobile data traffic.

Mobile data traffic increased nearly 300 fold in 10 years

Broadband IoT has now overtaken 2G/3G as the segment that connects the bulk of IoT applications. It is expected to account for 47 percent of all cellular IoT connections by the end of 2021, compared to 37 percent for 2G/3G and 16 percent for Massive IoT technologies (NB-IoT and Cat-M).

New forecasts reaffirm the rapid increase in mass IoT deployments in the coming years, with use cases such as e-health wearables, logistics asset tracking, environmental monitoring and smart metering, and smart production tracking and monitoring devices. Large-scale IoT deployments are expected to account for 51 percent of all cellular IoT connections by 2027.

Mobile data traffic increased nearly 300 fold in 10 years

Over the same forecast period, the number of FWA connections is expected to almost triple – from 88 million by the end of 2021 to about 230 million in 2027. Almost half of these connections are expected to be carried over 5G networks.

The ten-year anniversary edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report contains four main articles:

  • Building 5G infrastructure for the digital future, together with Far EastTone
  • Network build-out to boost digitalization, together with stc
  • Time to content: Benchmarking network performance
  • Building sustainable networks

Mobile data traffic increased nearly 300 fold in 10 years