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Sub-Saharan mobile data traffic about to explode

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report highlights African mobile markets as among the fastest growing in the world

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Mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to grow by 12 times the current figures, with total traffic increasing from 0.33 Exabytes (EB) per month to 4EB by 2025. Meanwhile, average traffic per smartphone is expected to reach 7.1GB over the forecast period. These forecasts are included in the June 2020 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, along with projections for data traffic growth, and regional subscriptions.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, LTE accounted for around 11% of subscriptions in 2019. Over the forecast period, mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to increase, reaching 72% of mobile subscriptions. LTE share will reach around 30% by the end of the forecast period, and LTE subscriptions are set to triple, increasing from 90 million in 2019 to 270 million in 2025.

Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “Technology brings an unprecedented opportunity to address the challenges of sustainable economic development and improve the livelihood of people in Africa.  The latest edition of Ericsson’s Mobility Report highlights Africa as one of the fastest growing mobile markets and reiterates the need for a more efficient technology, higher data rates and availability of ample spectrum. The Report highlights as well the importance of mobile and fixed networks as key components of critical national infrastructure to sustain and evolve emerging economies during remote work times.”

Driving factors behind the growth of mobile broadband subscriptions include a young and growing population with increasing digital skills, and more affordable smartphones. Over the forecast period, discernible volumes of 5G subscriptions are expected from 2022, reaching 3% by 2025.

Value of Digital Infrastructure

The spread of COVID-19 during the first part of 2020 impacted all parts of society globally, including the telecommunications sector. The Ericsson Mobility Report takes an incisive look at the role of networks and digital infrastructure in keeping societies running in Africa, and families connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on people in many countries and their daily lives, but consumers see resilient networks as a vital help in coping with everyday life. In a recent study conducted by Ericsson Consumer Lab, 83% of the respondents from 11 countries around the world claim that ICT helped them a lot to cope with the lockdown. The results show an increased adoption and usage of ICT services, such as e-learning and wellness apps, that have helped consumers adapt to new realities, underpinned by connectivity.

FWA takes an expanded role

Around half of all households in the world – over 1 billion – do not have a fixed broadband connection. Given the current speed and capacity of cellular networks with LTE, there are opportunities for African service providers to deliver broadband services to homes and small and medium-sized enterprises economically using Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).

FWA delivered over 4G or 5G is a cost-efficient alternative to providing broadband in areas with limited access to fixed broadband services such as DSL, cable or fiber. Several factors are driving the FWA market in Africa and beyond: demand from consumers and businesses for digital services along with government-sponsored programs and subsidies.

FWA connections are forecast to reach nearly 160 million by end of 2025 – generating about 25% of global mobile network data traffic. At the end of 2019, global FWA data traffic was estimated to have been around 15% of the global total. It is now projected to grow nearly 8 fold to reach 53 exabytes in 2025, representing 25%of the global total mobile network data traffic.

The report also includes forecasts on data traffic growth, regional subscriptions plus insights into cloud-based gaming as well as in-depth articles on private dedicated networks and Verizon’s millimeter wave strategy for targeted metropolitan areas.

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