By Louis Columbus for Forbes

These and other insights are from the 2016 Ericcson Mobility Report (PDF, no opt-in). Ericcson has provided a summary of the findings and a series of interactive graphics here. Ericcson created the subscription and traffic forecast baseline this analysis is based on using historical data from a variety of internal and external sources. Ericcson also validated trending analysis through the use of their planning models. Future development is estimated based on macroeconomic trends, user trends (researched by Ericsson ConsumerLab), market maturity, technology development expectations and documents such as industry analyst reports, on a national or regional level, together with internal assumptions and analysis.In addition, Ericsson regularly performs traffic measurements in over 100 live networks in all major regions of the world. For additional details on the methodology, please see page 30 of the study.

Key takeaways from the 2016 Ericcson Mobility Report include the following:

    • Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices are expected to exceed mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices in 2018, growing at a 23% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2021. Ericcson predicts there will be a total of approximately 28B connected devices worldwide by 2021, with nearly 16B related to IoT. The following graphic compares cellular IoT, non-cellular IoT, PC/laptop/tablet, mobile phones, and fixed phones connected devices growth from 2015 to 2021.

Internet of Things Forecast

    • 400 million IoT devices with cellular subscriptions were active at the end of 2015, and Cellular IoT is expected to have the highest growth among the different categories of connected devices, reaching 1.5B connections in 2021. Ericcson cites the growth factors of 3GPP standardization of cellular IoT technologies and cellular connections benefitting from enhancements in provisioning, device management, service enablement and security. The forecast for IoT connected devices: cellular and non-cellular (billions) is shown

IoT Connected Devices

  • Global mobile broadband subscriptions will reach 7.7B by 2021, accounting for 85% of all subscriptions. Ericcson is predicsmartphone subscriptionsting there will be 9B mobile subscriptions, 7.7B mobile broadband subscriptions, and 6.3B smartphone subscriptions by 2021 as well. The following graphic compares mobile subscriptions, mobile broadband, mobile subscribers, fixed broadband subscriptions, and mobile CPs, tablets and mobile routers’ subscription growth.

mobile subscription growth

  • Worldwide smartphone subscriptions will grow at a 10.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2012. Ericcson predicts that the Asia/Pacific (APAC) region will gain 1.7B new subscribers. The Middle East and Africa will have smartphone subscription rates will increase more than 200% between 2015–2021. The following graphic compares growth by global region.


  • Mobile subscriptions are growing around 3% year-over-year globally and reached 7.4B in Q1 2016. India is the fastest growing market regarding net additions during the quarter (+21 million), followed by Myanmar (+5 million), Indonesia, (+5 million), the US (+3 million) and Pakistan (+3 million). The following graphic compares mobile subscription growth by global region for Q1, 2016.

Mobile subscriptions Q1

  • 90% of subscriptions in Western Europe and 95% in North America will be for LTE/5G by 2021. The Middle East and Africa will see a dramatic shift from 2G to a market where almost 80% of subscriptions will be for 3G/4G. The following graphic compares mobile subscriptions by region and technology.

Mobile technology by region

  • Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 55% annually through 2021, accounting for nearly 67% of all mobile data traffic. Social networking traffic is predicted to attain a 41% CAGR from 2015 to 2021. The following graphic compared the growth of mobile traffic by application category and projected mobile traffic by application category per month.

mobile video traffic

  • Ericcson also provided mobile subscription, traffic per device, mobile traffic growth forecast, and monthly data traffic per smartphone. The summary table is shown below:

summary table