Mobile data traffic surpasses voice

Mobile data surpassed voice on a global basis during December of 2009, Ericsson announced today at the CTIA Wireless 2010 convention in Las Vegas. This finding is based on Ericsson measurements from live networks covering all regions of the world.


Ericsson's findings show that data traffic globally grew 280% during each of the last two years, and is forecast to double annually over the next five years. The crossover occurred at approximately 140,000 Terabytes per month in both voice and data traffic. The data traffic increase is contributing to revenue growth for operators when more and more consumers use data traffic generating devices such as Smartphones and PCs. During the same period, Ericsson measurements show that traffic in 3G networks surpassed that of 2G networks.


"This is a significant milestone with some 400 million mobile broadband subscriptions now generating more data traffic than the voice traffic from the total 4.6 billion mobile subscriptions around the world," said Hans Vestberg, Ericsson President and CEO, speaking at a management briefing in Las Vegas. "Our view that the appeal of anywhere, anytime connectivity would drive mobile broadband growth is confirmed by the real world measurements under taken by Ericsson."


Social networking sites on mobile devices and mobile broadband-based PCs now account for a large percentage of mobile data traffic. For example, over 200 mobile operators in 60 countries are deploying and promoting Facebook mobile products, with over 100 million active users accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.


Supporting this view is a recent Ericsson consumer insights study showing that as much as 80% of mobile broadband users demand anytime, anywhere access. It has become part of daily life. The study was based on 4,580 consumers in six mature markets. It also finds that as mobile data traffic increases, the mobile broadband connection is becoming as personal as the mobile phone. 80% of respondents said they would not share their laptop with anyone and 65% would not share their mobile broadband connection.


With the new consumer behavior mobile networks will need to be dimensioned for data as well as voice. This is expected to require significant network modernization and transformation to all-IP technologies and new support systems - areas where Ericsson is well positioned to help operators to benefit from these great opportunities.


Kursten Leins, General Manager, Strategic Marketing, Ericsson Australia/NZ said: "This historic milestone underlines a remarkable trend that has been evident in Australia for some time. In fact, mobile data traffic in Australia surpassed voice traffic a while ago, reflecting our industry structure which supports innovation and encourages our tendency for early adoption of new technology.


“The continued growth in mobile data, however, is potentially threatened by a number of constraints. With almost 25 percent of Australians now connecting to the internet using wireless broadband services, growth is likely to be constrained as insufficient spectrum has been made available to support the ongoing rapid growth of mobile broadband.


“Operators also need to continue to evolve their HSPA radio and core networks, together with backhaul, to cope with this burgeoning demand.


“LTE needs to be considered as a 'step-jump' to increase network capacity and reduce overall data carriage cost for operators."


The Ericsson global figures accord with the dynamic growth in Australia of mobile broadband services and data carried on networks. The latest official Government figures show wireless broadband services increasing by more than 160 per cent, said the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Chris Althaus.


“Australia cannot sustain strong economic growth unless it lifts its productive capacity and it cannot sustain ongoing improvements in living standards unless productivity growth improves. And a key enabler of gains in productivity is mobile telecommunications, which in turn relies on retaining existing and acquiring new spectrum infrastructure to keep up with demand,” he said.


Nathan Burley, Ovum analyst, said: "In Australia, mobile data traffic overtook voice traffic some time ago, although we think mobile data service revenue won't exceed mobile voice service revenue until 2014."