By 2020, smartphone subscriptions will be more than double, reaching 6.1 billion, and 70% of the world’s population will be using smartphones.
On top of this 90% will be covered by mobile broadband networks, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report.
The report highlights the fact that growth in mature markets comes from an increasing number of devices per individual, and in developing regions it comes from a swell of new subscribers as smartphones become more affordable.
Almost 80% of smartphone subscriptions added by year-end 2020 will be from Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.
With the continued rise of smartphones comes an accelerated growth in data usage.
In fact, smartphone data is predicted to increase ten-fold by 2020, when 80% of all mobile data traffic will come from smartphones, , according to the report.
Rima Qureshi, Ericsson senior vice president and chief strategy officer, says, 'This immense growth in advanced mobile technology and data usage, driven by a surge in mobile connectivity and smartphone uptake, will makes today's big data revolution feel like the arrival of a floppy disk.
“We see the potential for mass-scale transformation, bringing a wealth of opportunities for telecom operators and others to capture new revenue streams.
“But it also requires greater focus on cost efficient delivery and openness to new business models to compete and remain effective."
An expanding range of applications and business models, coupled with falling modem costs, are key factors driving the growth of connected devices, the report says.
Added to this, new use cases are emerging for both short and long range applications, leading to even stronger growth of connected devices moving forward.
Ericsson's forecast, outlined in the report, states there will be 26 billion connected devices by 2020.
On top of this, each year until 2020 mobile video traffic will grow by 55% per year and will constitute around 60% of all mobile data traffic by the end of that period.
Growth is largely driven by shifting user preferences towards video streaming services, and the increasing prevalence of video in online content including news, advertisements and social media.
When looking at data consumption in advanced mobile broadband markets, findings show a significant proportion of traffic is generated by a limited number of subscribers.
These heavy data users represent 10% of total subscribers but generate 55% of total data traffic.
Video is dominant among heavy users, who typically watch around one hour of video per day, which is 20 times more than the average user, the report shows.