While small enough to hold in one hand, smartphones like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy are having a big effect on the mobile networking landscape.
Smartphone traffic will reach 10 exabytes by 2019, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report released today. That represents a 10x increase in traffic between 2013 and 2019, and it could have huge implications for wireless network operators and enterprises that champion "bring your own device" (BYOD) initiatives.
The communications equipment and services provider also expects that by 2019, video will make up more than 50 percent of mobile traffic. Web services and social networking will represent roughly 10 percent each.
"In 2013, total mobile traffic generated by mobile phones exceeded that from mobile PCs, tablets and mobile routers for the first time," said the report. Ericsson's data correlates with the explosive popularity of smartphones, which has rewritten the rules of user IT and minted fortunes for mobile device makers like Apple and Samsung.
IDC revealed in July that worldwide smartphone shipments jumped 52.3 percent year-over-year during the second quarter of 2013. In total, vendors shipped 237.9 million smartphones during the period, a 10 percent gain over the first quarter. IDC senior analyst Kevin Restivo noted that "the smartphone market is still a rising tide that's lifting many ships."
Add cellular network operators and technology vendors to the list of businesses that stand to gain from the smartphone's ascendancy.
Ericsson forecasts that by 2019, mobile subscriptions will reach 9.3 billion with approximately 60 percent of those (5.6 billion) will be linked to smartphones. In short, expect smartphone adoption to accelerate, said Douglas Gilstrap, Ericsson's senior vice president and head of Strategy at Ericsson.
"The rapid pace of smartphone uptake has been phenomenal and is set to continue. It took more than five years to reach the first billion smartphone subscriptions, but it will take less than two to hit the 2 billion mark," stated Gilstrap in company remarks. "Between now and 2019, smartphone subscriptions will triple," he added.
One major IT networking company has already seen the writing on the wall.
Cisco in January announced that it was acquiring Israel-based Intucell for $475 million. The startup's intelligent wireless network management technology enables cellular data providers to optimize their networks, allowing them to handle more traffic and avoid service disruptions.
Businesses can also expect their mobile users to be in range of high-speed cellular networks, more often than not. By 2019, 3G WCDMA/HSPA networks are expected to reach 90 percent of the world's population, while 4G/LTE networks will cover 65 percent.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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