Ericsson: 4G will cover half the world's population by 2017

In its "Traffic and Market" report, Ericsson predicts that by 2017, 50 percent of the world will be covered by 4G.

Ericsson's CEO, Hans Vestberg, speaks at the company's media event in San Francisco. Lynn La/CNET

The Swedish telecommunications equipment company released its second Traffic and Market report during a media event today in San Francisco.

Fully titled as "Traffic and Market Report: On the Pulse of the Networked Society," the report predicts expansive global data coverage in the next five years.

According to its research, not only will half the world's population be covered by LTE/4G networks in 2017, but 85 percent of the world will have high-speed mobile 3G Internet by then as well.

In addition, the total number of smartphone subscriptions will grow from 700 million in 2011, to a projected three billion in 2017.

Analyzing these numbers and asking how society will be transformed with all this connectivity are issues not to be taken lightly for Ericsson execs.

"It's important for us to understand because that is steering our investments," said Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson.

"Fifty percent of all smartphone traffic is going through Ericsson equipment."

That increase in data usage will also affect traffic. Ericsson research predicts that in five years, mobile traffic will increase 15-fold. And compared to mobile PCs and tablets, smartphone data traffic alone will increase 20 times from 2011 to 2017.

Global mobile traffic: voice and data, 2010-2017. Ericsson

Patrik Cerwall, Ericsson's head of strategic marketing and intelligence, said that online videos and the increasing screen sizes of smartphones are the main factors that drive up traffic.

Other factors include the resolution of the screen, varying data plans, and the performance and quality of the network.

"All those things come into play when seeing how much traffic smartphones generate in different networks," he said.

For Cerwall, the combination of increasing mobile subscriptions, rising data traffic, and expanding network coverage affects more than just Ericsson itself.

"Add all these things together and what do we have?" he asked.

Answering his question, Cerwall replied: "A completely changed world."

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About the author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.

 

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