2020: the evolution of the mobile landscape

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We only have to look around. We’ve become used to everyone having a smartphone whether in their hands or in their pocket. We find it strange when someone still uses a mobile phone without an internet connection. The mobile landscape has been rapidly evolving, and will continue to do so in the coming years. This is what the Ericsson Mobility Report, which was released in June, predicts.

The report predicts that 2 billion mobile Internet contracts will be made by the end of 2015, in addition to the 7.2 billion already existing plans globally at the end of 2014. The number of mobile broadband contracts is growing by about 30% annually, and has seen an increase of 150 million in the first quarter of 2015. Of course, one of the most prominent trends revealed by the report is that many users have more than one plan. So while it is estimated that there will be 9.2 billion contracts by the end of the year, there will only be 4.9 billion customers, according to Ericsson.

It is estimated that by 2020 90% of the world population will be connected to mobile broadband networks and the number of data plans to double. In five years, when more than 6 billion smartphones worldwide are expected to be operating, nine out of ten people will carry a mobile device connected to the Internet.

Of course, today only 40% of the world population has access to LTE. Most are in North America and Western Europe, and even in these regions the fourth generation of mobiles is not completely implemented yet (there are still some areas without coverage). In other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, East Asia and Africa, most of the connections are made via EDGE or 3G technology.

About 80% of new contracts signed in 2020 will be in South America and the Asia-Pacific region. Both these new additions and users already exist, what does stand out is a clear trend towards the smartphone. “Most mobile broadband devices are, and will remain, smartphones,” says the report. In 2020, smartphones generated 80% of mobile data traffic.


The main challenge demonstrated by the data is the consolidation of the gap between the two speeds in the evolution of mobile landscape globally. On the one hand, there are regions that are already thinking about the final steps to complete the implementation of the 4G or 5G, but many other countries are lagging behind, where the majority of connections are still through WCDMA and GSM technologies.

Although the data points to a substantial increase in both the number of users and the number of contracts, the fact is that the difference in connections will be enormous until LTE is consolidated, and 5G technology is finally implemented. In 2020 it is expected that this technology will arrive to the UK and five years later to North America. At this time, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report, EDGE connections will not have disappeared, and there will still be many people using them in sub-Saharan Africa.