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Smartphone data traffic to hit 17 exabytes by 2020

Smartphone data usage will increase eightfold over the next six years as consumers continue to take advantage of the increasingly fast speeds on offer from mobile operators.

Global data produced as part of the latest Ericsson Mobility Report showed that traffic would grow from the 2.1 exabytes used per month in 2014 to approximately 17 exabytes by 2020.

On a per user basis it's expected that the average subscriber will jump from using an average of 900MB per month in 2014 to 3.5GB per month by 2020 and markets in Western Europe and North America are at the forefront of the change.

This is being driven by a 130 per cent increase in the number of smartphone subscriptions in the six-year period that will result in a jump from 2.7 billion in 2014 to 6.1 billion in 2020.

Overall mobile subscriptions, which includes broadband, PCs, tablets, routers and cellular M2M, will increase from 7.1 billion in 2014 to 9.5 billion in 2020 and as a proportion of this, 90 per cent of the world’s population over six years old will have a mobile by 2020.

“Most mobile broadband devices are, and will continue to be, smartphones. Many consumers in developing markets first experience the internet on smartphones – usually because they have only limited access to fixed broadband,” read the report.

When it comes to devices, tablets are set to see a 15-fold increase in mobile data traffic between now and 2020 whereas the overall device market will see the same eight-fold increase as overall smartphone data traffic.

4G LTE, which is currently worth a small proportion of those 7.1 billion subscriptions, will grow to 3.5 billion by 2020 as more users in Western Europe and North America take advantage of the faster connections. That will be music to the ears of mobile operators in the UK that have spent vast reserves of money on establishing 4G networks and subscribers are will flood onto their networks in the next few years.