Internet accessibilty by users the world over has been attributed mainly to the use of the mobile phones.
A latest assessment,“Traffic and Market Report” by Ericsson, which looks at the mobile landscape for the next five years observed that the internet is going mobile as mobile PC and tablet subscription would, by 2017, be on the same level as fixed broadband subscription.
According to Ericsson's head of strategic marketing and intelligence, Patrick Cerwall,the
report forecasts there will be over nine billion mobile subscriptions globally by 2017 (excluding M2M); five billion of those subscriptions will be for mobile broadband.
“With an increased number of subscriptions, evolved devices and the 24/7 connectivity to use them, we expect global mobile data traffic to grow 15 times by the end of 2017”, he noted.
By the same year, Ericsson predicted 85 per cent of the world's population will be covered by WCDMA/HSPA networks, and 50 per cent will be covered by 4G.
While there are currently 700 million smartphones, it is predicted that by 2017 there will be over three billion resulting in a 20-fold increase in smartphone data traffic compared to an expected 15-fold increase in standard mobile data traffic.
Looking at the first quarter of 2012, the report said there were 6.2 billion mobile subscriptions, 170 million net additions, with smartphones accounting for 35-40 per cent of all new phones sold.
“Only around 10-15 per cent of the worldwide installed base of mobile subscriptions use smartphones, which means there is considerable room for further uptake,” Cerwall, said,
According to report, in Africa, there were 680 million mobile subscriptions in the first quarter, with 30 million net additions during the same period. This places the continent's overall mobile subscription penetration rate at 55 per cent.
Ericsson's sub-Saharan Africa marketing and strategy head, Shiletsi Makhofane, said the latest report strongly correlates with a number of key trends being seen in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile subscriptions are expected to increase by 200-250 million in the next five years.
Makhofane said the evolution from 3G to LTE is also a very important issue from a regional perspective saying, “We need to ensure that the latest devices manufacturers bring into the SA market are supported by mainstream infrastructure.
“We also need to look into our policy framework to see how to best take up the opportunity of exploding data. There is a big drive to leverage this to improve the quality of life for South Africans, especially in the areas of health and education.
“Good broadband coverage and access can help facilitate this and at the same time, facilitate general economic efficiency. It is widely known that there is a direct correlation between broadband growth and a country's GDP.”
Makhofane adds that there needs to be debate in SA around the taxation of devices and technologies. “Given what we've seen in this report, we need to think about the point at which taxation should be shifted in order to encourage the entry of new products and technologies and in order to fuel adoption.”
According to Makhofane, M2M (machine-to-machine) connectivity also has great growth potential in Africa. By 2020, Ericsson predicted there will be 1.5 billion vehicles globally, three billion utility meters and a cumulative 100 billion processors shipped each capable of processing and communicating information.
“At the forefront of adopting machine connectivity are utilities, government, transportation, healthcare and finance. Intelligent transport solutions can speed up traffic flows, reduce fuel consumption and save lives. Smart grids can lower energy consumption and enable more renewable energy sources. Remote monitoring will provide convenient access to healthcare, raise its quality and save money.
“The focus will be on improved operation and features; devices and machinery will work differently in an all-connected world. There will be a shift from asking 'do we need to connect it?' to 'what can we do differently now that it's connected?' This is the new mindset that the networked society will create,” says Ericsson.