4G Data Use to Overtake 3G Worldwide by 2016


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Mobile providers in the U.S. are constantly waging marketing battles touting their 4G networks and speeds. High-end smartphone manufacturers have all moved past 4G as a differentiating feature for their handsets. Despite this situation, market research firm ABI Research estimates that 4G subscriptions currently make up less than 3% of worldwide cellular subscriptions.

Though 4G has not yet penetrated many markets outside of the west, the technology's greater speeds do allow consumers to use more data - and they take advantage of that. ABI today estimated that 4G subscribers use 20% of the data streamed on mobile networks worldwide. The firm also predicted that that 4G's percentage will overtake 3G data consumption by the year 2016. ABI is making this prediction due to the increased efforts of mobile providers to rollout 4G in more territories, as well as the falling prices seen in both the smartphone and tablet markets.

“These two factors work hand in hand to enable consumers to stream videos,” said Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI Research. “Already, Verizon saw video accounting for 50% of its network traffic earlier this year. ABI Research believes global annual video consumption will soar at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 60.6% to exceed 100 Exabyte in 2018.”

Though higher speeds will make mobile video more popular, ABI cautions that internet data traffic will still make up 27% of mobile data used in 2018. The firm also claims that with the rise of data speeds will also come higher mobile revenues, which it predicts will rise by a 7.9% CAGR in the next five years.