Global mobile broadband subscriptions are forecast to exceed 2 billion in 2013 and 8 billion by 2019, according to the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report (.pdf).
Mobile phone subscriptions totaled 6.6 billion up to and including the 2013 third quarter, with 113 million subscriptions added during the latest quarter, according to the Ericsson report. This marks a 7 percent year-over-year jump and a 2 percent quarter-over-quarter increase.
However, the actual number of mobile subscribers is closer to 4.5 billion, because many people have multiple subscriptions, Ericsson explains.
Smartphones accounted for 55 percent of all mobile phones sold in the third quarter, compared to around 40 percent last year.
"The rapid pace of smartphone uptake has been phenomenal and is set to continue. It took more than five years to reach the first billion smartphone subscriptions, but it will take less than two to hit the two billion mark. Between now and 2019, smartphone subscriptions will triple," Douglas Gilstrap, Ericsson's senior vice president and head of strategy, says.
Mobile phone subscriptions are expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2019, and more than 60 percent of these will be for smartphones. Almost two-thirds of the world's population will be covered by 4G LTE networks by 2019.
Ericsson predicts that smartphone traffic will grow by 10 times between 2013 and 2019, reaching 10 exabytes. Video is growing 55 percent per year and will represent more than 50 percent of the mobile data traffic, while social networking and web services will account for around 10 percent each in 2019.