Mobile data traffic

Growth in mobile data traffic

Mobile data traffic 2015-2022

Mobile network data traffic also includes traffic generated by fixed wireless access (FWA) services

Global data traffic over mobile networks has almost doubled in the last two years, as indicated by Ericsson’s Mobility Report published at the end of November 2022.

Excluding the traffic generated by fixed wireless access (FWA), this figure stood at 90 exabytes (EB) per month (90 billion billion bytes) at the end of 2022. Global data traffic over mobile networks is set to increase almost four-fold by 2028, reaching 325EB per month. If the traffic generated by FWA is included, the monthly data quantity reached 115EB by the end of 2022 and is set to climb to 453EB per month by 2028.

The report also highlights the increasingly important role of FWA in the provision of broadband services. Ericsson revised its FWA forecast upwards, estimating that there were over 100 million FWA connections in 2022, a figure set to increase three-fold by 2028 to 300 million.

Reasons for the sharp growth in mobile data traffic include the rising number of mobile contracts linked to smartphones, and an increase in the data volumes included in those contracts, which is being driven mainly by the rising consumption of video content. According to Ericsson, video already accounted for 70% of mobile data traffic worldwide in 2022. This is the fastest growing share of mobile data traffic worldwide and is estimated to climb by a further 30% per year and will account for almost 80% of mobile data traffic by 2028. The report said that most of this data traffic is accounted for by the streaming of videos, which are shared via popular social media platforms (YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram), followed by on-demand streaming services, like Netflix.

While the bulk of mobile data traffic is absorbed by the networks of the previous generations (3G and 4G), 5G’s share of mobile data traffic is continually rising. It amounted to 17% in 2022 (compared with just 10% at the end of 2021) and is expected to make up almost 70% of global data traffic via mobile networks by 2028.

However, the number of 4G contracts continues to grow, rising by 41 million to a total of 5 billion in the third quarter of 2022. While this technology reached a record level of 5.2 billion contracts at the end of 2022, it is set to fall to 3.5 billion by 2028 when the migration of users to 5G has been completed.

The number of 5G contracts went up by 110 million in the third quarter of 2022 to 870 million. An increase to over one billion was expected by the end of 2022. Almost a third (30%) of the world population now has access to 5G coverage. The report estimated that around 85% of the world population would be able to use 5G by 2028.

The Ericsson report also confirms that 5G is developing at a faster pace than all previous mobile communication technology generations and the one-billion-contract mark will be reached two years earlier than was the case with the 4G standard introduced in 2009.

Last modification 31.05.2023

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