Ericsson Mobility Report: Mobile data traffic increased almost 300-fold over 10 years

  • 4.4 billion 5G subscriptions are forecast for the end of 2027 globally equaling around half of all mobile subscriptions at that time
  • South East Asia and Oceania region will see data traffic per smartphone growing at the fastest rate globally by 2027. 
  • 5G subscriptions expected to touch 15 million at the end of 2021 in South East Asia and Oceania


Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) global insights reveal an almost 300-fold increase in mobile data traffic since 2011, the year in which Ericsson Mobility Report was first published.  The findings, based on current and historical network data, are included in the special ten-year edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report November 2021. The report looks back at some of the key trends and events that have shaped the last decade, as well as revealing the latest forecasts toward 2027.


The premise that 5G will become the fastest deployed mobile generation to date is enhanced with an updated estimate of close to 660 million 5G subscriptions by the end of this year. The increase is due to stronger than expected demand in China and North America, driven partly by decreasing prices of 5G devices. There was also a net addition of 98 million 5G subscriptions globally in Q3 2021, compared to 48 million new 4G subscriptions. At the end of 2021, it is estimated that 5G networks will cover more than two billion people.


According to the latest forecasts, 5G is on track to become the dominant mobile access technology by subscriptions globally by 2027. By this time, 5G is expected to account for around 50 percent of all mobile subscriptions worldwide – covering 75 percent of the world’s population and carrying 62 percent of the global smartphone traffic.


Igor Maurell, Head of Ericsson Thailand, says: “Mobile communication has had an incredible impact on society and business over the last ten years. When we look ahead to 2027, mobile networks will be more integral than ever in how we interact, live and work. Our latest Ericsson Mobility Report shows that the pace of change is accelerating, with technology playing a crucial role.”


In South East Asia and Oceania, mobile subscriptions have exceeded 1.1 billion. 5G subscriptions are expected to reach close to 15 million at the end of 2021 and will grow strongly over the next few years, with a forecast total of about 560 million in 2027. South East Asia and Oceania will see data traffic per smartphone increasing at the fastest rate globally, reaching 46GB per month in 2027 – a CAGR of 34 percent. Total mobile data traffic will grow accordingly, at a CAGR of 39 percent, reaching 46EB per month, driven by continued growth in 4G subscriptions and 5G uptake in markets where 5G has been launched.


“Thailand has one of the world’s most active internet population. When it comes to industries and enterprises, Thailand is one of the key regional industrial hubs with a number of potential businesses looking to modernize their operations with 5G technology. My view is that it is pivotal that the country needs to build a programmable, secure and efficient 5G network,” Igor said.


Since 2011, the deployment of 4G LTE networks has been pivotal in generating 5.5 billion new smartphone connections worldwide, contributing to the market availability of more than 20,000 different 4G device models. The report indicates a much earlier technology lifecycle of 5G devices, with 5G handsets today accounting for 23 percent of global volumes, compared to 8 percent of 4G handsets at the corresponding point in its lifecycle.


This is helping to fuel an exponential growth of mobile data traffic. Mobile network data traffic was up 42 percent year-on-year in Q3 2021 at approximately 78EB, including traffic generated by Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services. In Q3, more mobile data traffic was generated than all mobile traffic ever generated up until the end of 2016. New forecasts reveal that total mobile network data traffic is likely to reach 370EB by the end of 2027.


This ten-year anniversary edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report includes four feature articles:

  • Building 5G infrastructure for the digital future, together with Far EasTone
  • Network build-out to boost digitalization, together with stc
  • Time-to-content: Benchmarking network performance
  • Building sustainable networks