Africa has accounted for about 20% of the new mobile data subscriptions notched up globally in the last quarter.
This is one of the findings of the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, which determined that there were about 113-million new mobile subscriptions in the third quarter, with China and Africa accounting for about half of them.
By 2019, says Frederik Jejdling, head of Ericsson region sub-Saharan Africa, there are expected to be 9,3-billion mobile subscriptions around the world by 2019.
This will be driven by a three-times increase in smartphone subscriptions, he says, and a 10-times increase in mobile data traffic consisting mainly of video which will account for about half of mobile network traffic.
In the sub-Saharan African region, however, mobile data traffic is expected to experience about 17-times growth by 2019, while voice traffic is set to double.
In the developed world, 3G will reach about 90% of the population by 2019, with LTE reaching about 65%, or 2,6-billion subscriptions.
The sub-Saharan market will reach about 930-million mobile subscriptions by 2019, up from 560-million today. Of these, 732-million will be mobile broadband, the majority of them 3G.
In addition, there will be significant traffic per month, Jejdling adds, with about 633Pb per month anticipated, while smartphone subscriptions will be at around 476-million.
From a consumer perspective, mobile phones are becoming the most desired consumer item above DVDs and televisions. Meanwhile, social media and Internet browsing are now the preferred use of phones after SMS.
“Africa has traditionally been a voice and SMS market, but this is changing rapidly,” Jejdling says. “The app culture is evolving strongly, driven by the youth segment.”
3G will still be the dominant technology in five years’ time, Jejdling says, driven by the availability and affordability of handsets.
“It is the smartphones that will drive data traffic growth,” he says. “We have seen that when people get a relevant device for themselves, combined with mobility and broadband, magic seems to happen. We’ve seen the same pattern in many countries.”
There is no doubt that the world is on the cusp of massive changes, Jejdling adds. He says that, by 2019, the data traffic generated by mobile phones will exceed that generated by PCs, driven mainly by video.
Importantly, video requires a good network connection, he adds, and time to content is going to be critical for the user experience.
“10% of mobile users will abandon an online video if it hasn’t loaded after four seconds, and 40% will abandon it after 10 seconds. For data networks, quality is the biggest reason why people churn: they are much more sensitive to the quality of the networks.”