It took 12 years for 3G technologies to touch half of the world’s population, but getting to 85 percent coverage will only take another five, according to wireless infrastructure vendor Ericsson. New HSPA+ and LTE network deployments will lead to a near blanketing of the world’s populated areas with mobile broadband by 2017.
What’s more LTE networks are being deployed much faster than their 3G predecessors, said Patrik Cerwall, Ericsson director of strategic marketing. By 2017, LTE will cover 50 percent of the world’s population – a remarkable feat considering the first LTE systems went live only in 2010. That’s, in part, on ongoing trend, Cerwall said: every new generation of cellular technology arrives faster than previous generations. But LTE’s remarkable growth owes much to the huge demand for mobile data spurred by the smartphone, he added.
Total global mobile connections reached 6.2 billion in the first quarter, driven by enormous take up in developing markets. While smartphone penetration in North America, Europe and parts of Asia has ramped up, the devices still only account for a fraction – about 700 million — of the world’s total connections. That will change in five years, though. In 2017, there will be close to 9 million total cellular connections, and one third of them will be smartphones, according to the study.
Ericsson’s Traffic and Market Report is chalk full of data, gathered from Ericsson’s customers, its own Consumer Labs analytics and from independent research reports. We’ll be diving into different aspects of the report in the coming days, but Ericsson has prepared an infographic that details the study’s highlights: