Mobile Data Traffic has Doubled in the Last Year, Says Report

According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, mobile data is on the rise with no abatement in sight. The study found that the amount of mobile data traffic doubled in the last year (between Q3 2011 and Q3 2012), and it’s expected to grow 12-fold over the next 6 years.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, streaming video is responsible for much of that traffic--about 25% of smartphone traffic and 40% of tablets’--which is a finding that jibes with other recent reports on Web traffic. (Here’s looking at you, Netflix.)

Ericsson Mobility

Smartphone proliferation has a lot to do with it, of course, and the study noted that 40% of all phones sold this quarter were smartphones. Expanded 4G LTE coverage (here’s looking at you, Verizon) certainly contributes to the rapid increase in mobile data consumption, as users can enjoy speedy connections that make activities such as streaming a movie a far more enjoyable experience than trying to do the same over a 3G connection. Ericsson calculates that 455 million people worldwide have LTE access, but about half of the world’s population will have it within 5 years.

Mobile providers have their work cut out for them; they have to rapidly deploy new infrastructure to keep pace both with each other and with consumers’ growing appetite for data, and the quality of that service needs to be top-notch. None of the above will be easily accomplished.