The fact-packed Ericsson Mobility Report might well be called the Ericsson Minority Report. It’s a glimpse of a faster and more connected future. Here are the key insights and numbers…

What will the mobile world look like in 2022? The answers – more accurately, the data – are to be found in the latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report. The headlines are as follows:

  • 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions
  • 6.1 billion unique subscribers
  • 6.8 billion smartphone users
  • 550 million 5G subscriptions
  • 29 billion connected devices
  • 75 percent of all mobile data traffic will be video

The study is closely watched and widely quoted. After all, as a telco infrastructure provider Ericsson does have a inside view on what’s happening across mobile networks.

Its headline conclusion is around 5G. Ericsson expects commercial 5G networks based on ITU standards to be available in 2020. Thereafter, it will take just two years to get to 550 million subscriptions, with 5G accessible by 10 per cent of users.

Of course, the reason everyone is so excited about 5G is not just because of its speed. It’s also wide. So it has the potential to connect an almost infinite number of low-bandwidth objects.

Ericsson projects 29 billion connected devices by 2022, of which around 18 billion will be related to the Internet of Things (IoT).

And what of 4G? Well, the report says LTE should become the dominant mobile access technology by 2019, and will hit 4.6 billion subscriptions by the end of 2022. Indeed, five years from now we will be firmly living in a mobile connected world.

By 2022, says the report, there will be 6.8 million smartphone subscriptions, of which more than 95 per cent will have data access via WCDMA/HSPA, LTE and 5G networks.

And where will all this action take place? Predictably today’s mature markets will maintain their lead, but growth will be faster elsewhere.

Thus, 5G will constitute 25 per cent of subscriptions in North America and 10 per cent in Asia Pacific in 2022.

However, from 2016 to 2022, Middle East and Africa will dramatically shift from a region with a majority of GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions, to 80 per cent of all subscriptions on WCDMA/HSPA and LTE.

So what will tomorrow’s subscribers do with all this fast and widely available data? Again, no prizes for guessing: watch more video.

Ericsson says in Q3 2016, data traffic grew around 10 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 50 percent year-on-year. Within that, mobile video traffic is exploding. It’s now approaching 60 per cent of total traffic. Depending on the region, YouTube traffic accounts for between 40 70 per cent of it.

Meanwhile, Netflix consumes between ten and 20 per cent. The company confirmed a worldwide growth drive in 2016, so this percentage can be expected to grow.

Overall, Ericsson suggests that video traffic will grow by around 50 per cent annually through 2022 to account for nearly 75 per cent of all mobile data traffic.

Social networking is the second biggest data traffic type after video, with volumes set to grow by 39 per cent annually to 2022.

And this growth in social plays into another big shift in data consumption: live video streaming. The fact is, to date most video consumption has been ‘formal’ in the sense that it is fuelled by commercial content providers. However, the next phase could be a shift to user generated live content.

Ericsson says that in the US, it’s only the ‘power users’ (7 percent of all smartphone users) that have taken to live streaming apps such as Periscope. The mainstream (outside of South Korea) has yet to convert.

But one thing is changing that: Facebook Live. Now, one third of Facebook users on smartphones across 14 markets claim that they have watched a live video of a celebrity, politician or other influencer.

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