Over six billion smartphones will be in use worldwide by 2020, and 90 percent of people aged six and up will own a mobile device.
Additionally, within the next five years, mobile broadband networks are expected to reach 90 percent of the global population. Smartphone subscriptions will more than double during the same period.
According to new research published in the new Ericsson Mobility Report for June 2015, roughly 80 percent of new subscriptions will come from Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, as devices become more affordable in developing markets.
The research firm says 2014 saw 7.2 billion total mobile subscriptions, which will likely grow to 9.2 billion in 2015. Smartphone subscriptions across the world currently stand at about 2.6 billion, but will explode to a whopping 6.1 billion by 2020. Around 400 million mobile subscriptions by 2020 are anticipated to come from China alone.
The number of current subscriptions already exceeds the total population in many countries, due to multiple device ownership and inactive subscriptions. In markets that are already developed, people also use secondary devices such as tablets. This has led to a sharp contrast: 4.9 billion subscribers vs. 7.2 billion subscriptions. In terms of mobile broadband subscriptions, smartphones lead the charge.
"Most mobile broadband devices are, and will continue to be, smartphones. Many consumers in developing markets first experience the internet on a smartphone, usually due to limited access to fixed broadband," reads the report.
"2014 saw more than 700 million smartphone subscriptions added, due to the addition of new subscribers and existing subscribers exchanging their basic phones for smartphones. It took over five years to reach the first billion smartphone subscriptions, a milestone that was hit in 2012, and less than two years to reach the second billion."
Mobile data traffic for the first quarter of 2015 was also 55 percent higher than the same period in 2014. By 2020, smartphones will generate 80 percent of mobile data traffic. 5G is also expected to play a big role, achieving a faster adoption rate than 4G.
Summing things up, 90 percent of the global population will rely on a mobile broadband network by 2020, and 70 percent of the world's population will own a smartphone, with 6.1 billion smartphones in use across the globe by 2020.
WCDMA/GSM will account for the largest share of all subscriptions in 2020. While LTE will see roughly 3.7 billion subscriptions by 2020, WCDMA/GSM subscriptions are expected to reach roughly 3.8 billion.