A region of phone addicts? MENA mobile data traffic to grow 14-fold by 2020

Published June 8th, 2015 - 03:00 GMT
Mobile data traffic in the Middle East and Africa will be 14 times larger in 2020 than six years ago, Ericsson Mobility Report said Sunday. (Shutterstock)
Mobile data traffic in the Middle East and Africa will be 14 times larger in 2020 than six years ago, Ericsson Mobility Report said Sunday. (Shutterstock)

Mobile data traffic in the Middle East and North-East Africa region is on track to grow 14-fold between 2014 and 2020 while globally data will grow nine times, Ericsson Mobility Report said on Sunday.

By 2020, mobile subscriptions in the region will reach around 970 million while the amount of data used monthly by each active smartphone will increase substantially from an average of 0.8GB in 2014 to approximately 5GB, Ericsson said.

In terms of topline traffic growth, a recent Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast projects that global mobile data traffic will reach an annual run rate of 292 exabytes by 2019, up from 30 exabytes in 2014.

According to Cisco, the ongoing adoption of more powerful mobile devices and machine-to-machine connections combined with broader access to faster cellular networks are key contributors to significant mobile traffic growth. In 2014, 88 percent of global mobile data traffic was “smart” traffic, with advanced computing/multi-media capabilities and a minimum of 3G connectivity, but that figure is expected to rise to 97 percent by 2019.

Rafiah Ibrahim, president, Ericsson, Region Middle East and East Africa, said the ICT transformation has been phenomenal across the region. “Such transformation is far beyond simple technological innovation, it calls us to reshape existing business models and infrastructure environments. In the future, it will address completely new needs arising from technological and consumer behavioural changes. Just imagine the possibilities,” he said.

“Ericsson’s Mobility Report provides a glimpse into the future of mobility, allowing us to capture the opportunities made possible by the Networked Society, where everything that can be connected will be connected,” said Ibrahim.

The region as a whole had around 680 million mobile subscriptions at the end of 2014. Between 2014 and 2020, it is forecast that mobile subscriptions will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of six percent, amounting to 970 million.

LTE subscriptions are on the rise and are expected to triple in 2015 alone, and surpass 210 million by 2020, equating to around 20 percent of all mobile subscriptions.

Some 17 percent or 125 million of all mobile subscriptions were attributed to smartphones at the end of 2014; however, as inexpensive smartphones become abundant and mobile broadband rollouts accelerate, smartphone subscriptions will increase across all the markets. Of the 970 million mobile subscriptions predicted at the end of 2020, 40 percent will come from smartphones.

By 2020, the amount of data used monthly by each active smartphone will increase substantially from an average of 0.8GB in 2014 to approximately 5GB.

Data-intensive utility, communication and entertainment services are commonly used by smartphone owners. Mobile video traffic will continue to grow, driven by video streaming services and increasing prevalence of video in social media.

Ericsson said today, 40 percent of the world’s mobile traffic is carried over Ericsson networks, allowing it to facilitate better business for telecommunication and other industries. Smartphone subscription and mobile technology are unlocking the potential for a mass-scale transformation.

By Isaac John 


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