Ericsson of Sweden claims that by 2017 the number of devices connected to wireless networks will by exceed the number of people on the planet by more than one and a half billion. Martyn Warwick reports.
Meanwhile, in Far Americay, the US Census Bureau has just published its latest forecasts for global population growth over the same period and calculates that by 2017 the earth will be groaning under the combined weight of 7.4 billion people.
Given the various initiatives promulgated in certain parts of the world to control the runaway increase in the birthrate (as in China's "One family, One Child" law) perhaps it's time we also start to think about limiting the number of mobile devices any one person can own before we all disappear in a global fug of radio fog? (Just joking. After all, where would we be without making people work harder to earn more money to buy more things?. Happier you say? How dare you. Go and sit on the naughty step until you buy an iPad).
Ericsson reckons there will be nine billion mobile subscriptions by 2017 (the figure was 6.32 billion at the beginning of 2012) The comms network equipment manufacturer adds that traffic growth will soon be close to exponential as demand for data-heavy service and applications such as mobile Internet access, video and the storage of immense numbers of files in the 'cloud' continues to surge all around the world.
The Swedish company has just published its second annual Traffic and Market report and drew on its own experience of the demands on its own circuits as a platform for its bullish forecasts.
Ericsson believes that data traffic will increase 15-fold over the next five years, by which time time 85 per cent of all humans will live within range of a mobile broadband signal.
Currently just about half of the world's population are in that happy position.
Talking about the publication of the new figures, according to Ericsson's CEO, Hans Vestburg: "In 2008, there were four billion mobile subscriptions. By 2017 there will be close to nine billion subscriptions. With this kind of mobility and connectivity everywhere, there will be no differentiation between a business user and a private user."
The Ericsson research finds the huge increase in data traffic is directly attributable to just three types of smartphone that have conquered the world and changed the comms environment for ever. They are; 1) The iPhone, 2) Android-empowered handsets and, 3) Windows phones.
The report also shows that mobile penetration in Western Europe is 126 per cent but slowing whilst in Africa it is 55 per cent and accelerating - so the gap is steadily reducing although there is still a long, long way to go.
The Ericsson research also reveals that 40 per cent of smartphone subscribers read and write emails and access the mobile web more or less as soon as they wake up in the morning - and certainly before they get out of bed. It throws up a few other interesting nuggets of information: smartphone usage - and pressure on networks - is at its greatest between 06h00 and 10h00 Monday through Friday as people work on their daily commutes into work and, over drinks in coffee shops and on arrival at their desk.
By contrast, usage in the evening rush hours and after work is much more evenly spread out with a mere 35 per cent of smartphone owners clogging-up the global airwaves at any given moment.
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