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By 2024 Smartphones Will Consume 21GB+ of Mobile Data on Average

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 (4:42 pm) - Score 2,034

The latest biannual mobility report from Ericsson has revealed that the world is home to a total of 7.9 billion mobile subscriptions and this will hit 8.9 billion by 2024. Over the same period the amount of monthly mobile data (3G, 4G and 5G) traffic consumed by a Smartphone user will rise from 5.6 GigaBytes today to 21GB.

The report, which notes that 2019 will also be the year that future 5G technology finally “takes off” (albeit only via very limited commercial deployments in the UK and EU), finds that some 90% of total mobile data (mobile broadband) traffic is generated by Smartphones today and this is forecast to reach 95% by 2024.

As with fixed line services, the main source of data consumption in mobile networks is video traffic (e.g. YouTube, Netflix, iPlayer etc.) – currently accounts for 60% – and this is predicted to grow by 35% annually through 2024 to account for 74% of all mobile data traffic. Traffic from social networking is also expected to rise – increasing by 24% annually over the next 6 years.


North East Asia is of course the world’s most populous region and, as such, has the largest share of global mobile data traffic – close to 30% at the end of 2018. In 2024, total mobile data traffic in the region is forecast to reach 39EB (ExaBytes) per month (up from 11EB today). Over the same period Western Europe will go from 2.6EB per month today to 14EB in 2024.

At present the vast majority of mobile subscriptions make use of 4G (LTE) networks, although a significant portion are also on 3G (HSPA / UTMS) networks and some unfortunate soles are still stuck with the old 2G standard. But it’s clear that future 5G networks are about to start having a significant impact.


5G networks are currently being deployed in several regions worldwide and commercial launches are already taking place. One of the first 5G use cases will be fixed wireless access, as devices with form factors suitable for customer premises equipment will be early to the market, and will not have the stringent size, weight and power consumption requirements that come with smartphones,” said the report (download here).

Global Key Figures

Mobile subscriptions 2017 2018 Forecast 2024 CAGR** 2018-2024 Unit
Worldwide mobile subscriptions 7,720 7,980 8,920 2% million
> Smartphone subscriptions 4,350 5,010 7,210 6% million
> Mobile PC, tablet and mobile router subscriptions 250 260 330 4% million
> Mobile broadband subscriptions 5,250 5,930 8,420 6% million
> Mobile subscriptions, GSM/EDGE-only 2,410 2,000 470 -21% million
> Mobile subscriptions, WCDMA/HSPA 2,330 2,270 1,480 -7% million
> Mobile subscriptions, LTE 2,750 3,580 5,440 7% million
> Mobile subscriptions, 5G 1,500 million
Mobile data traffic* 2017 2018 Forecast 2024 CAGR** 2018-2024 Unit
> Data traffic per smartphone 3.4 5.6 21 24% GB/month
> Data traffic per mobile PC 9.8 12 30 17% GB/month
> Data traffic per tablet 4.6 5.8 14 16% GB/month
Total data traffic*** 2017 2018 Forecast 2024 CAGR** 2018-2024 Unit
Total mobile data traffic 15 27 136 31% EB/month
> Smartphones 13 24 128 32% EB/month
> Mobile PCs and routers 1.7 2.1 5.2 17% EB/month
> Tablets 0.5 0.7 2.0 20% EB/month
Total fixed data traffic 80 100 280 18% EB/month
Fixed broadband connections 930 990 1,120 2% million

* Active devices.

** CAGR is calculated on unrounded figures.

*** Figures are rounded (see methodology) and therefore summing up (of rounded data may result in slight differences from the actual total).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. SimonM says:

    Which of course means that if people are using almost 4 times as much data on average, and more people using the data (using the network to access the services which consume data) then the speed you’ll get from the super new 5G networks will probably, once shared out amongst all those users, not be much better than the best of 4G today – unless of course providers go for the really top end highest of speeds in their deployments, and the handsets also support those very highest of speeds.

  2. AndyC says:

    Looks like virgin mobiles 200gig offer came at the right time.

    1. Simon says:

      it sure did – I grabbed a sim and I can’t still believe it – the 100GB of the main allowance rolls over too for a month and then resets but that’s still mind blowing

      My speeds is the capped 70mbps down and about 30mbps up all the time

  3. Jazzy says:

    I can’t see it personally unless it’s ying and yang. I’ve just moved from EE contract to EE sim only (still on 12 month contract) and wanted the cheapest sim possible because my phoned is an iPhone 7Plus and in immaculate condition. I work from home most of the time so most of the time I am in WIFI. Last month I used 560mb month before 1.6mb month before 2.1mb so I opted for a 3mb plan for £8 a month. When I last upgraded in 2016 I was around the same and I am never off my phone when I am out too and rarely use WIFI spots in spoons or supermarkets

  4. Michael V says:

    So… Seeing as my average usage is 80GB – 135GB a month, it’s hilarious to think what it will be in 5 years! [I’m 18 days into my billing month & I’ve bashed thru 123GB so far]

    1. Simon says:

      I’m not far from you with 200GB a month and some which rolls over – i’m 4TB average on Virgin, according to them. I like UHD sky Cinema but man thats excessive

    2. Ray James says:

      Lol, Michael that nothing man 934gb tplink 4g router 15 days billing with three UK

      I have one sim with three paying £12 a month unlimited data/hotspot 200 minutes and unlimited text. 4g router

      Brand new contract sim £20 which I downgraded my unlimited minutes to 600minutes all u can eat/Unlimited hotspot and text paying £14. iphone xs max
      I use around 150gb – 200gb on this one.

    3. Simon says:

      Ray – this was why they stopped it last time – is it just a matter of time before they do it again?

    4. Mike says:

      All I can say is the 1TB cap is a myth or at least not rigidly enforced 😉

  5. Ray James says:

    People need to grab that three UK deal £20 unlimited everything now before they price hike that to £40 – £50 next year

    Grab that £20 with £70 quidco and 4g Amazon router save yourself paying for a virgin or bt.

    1. Simon says:

      And then be back here whinging when usage like yours takes the network down – as others have done in the past –

      BTW those 5 people who did TB’s were sued and forced to pay for their usage – just in case you missed that. 1TB+ on a landline or cable is okay but on 4G? Nah not cool man

  6. Ray James says:

    Who cares if they stop it I will move to virgin mobile and do the same life to short to worry about this good on people taking the Michael about time we force these companies keep on adding bandwidth.
    Instead of ripping off customers

    1. Simon says:

      You can reply to a thread you already started you know?

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