According to Ericsson's second Traffic and Market Report - On the Pulse of the Networked Society, 85 percent of the world's population will have internet coverage via 3G by 2017 and there will be close to nine billion mobile subscriptions, compared to six billion by the end of 2011, with machine-to-machine subscriptions adding to this figure. Mobile broadband subscriptions, meanwhile, are forecast to reach five billion in 2017, compared to one billion by the end of 2011.

Douglas Gilstrap, Senior Vice President and head of Strategy, Ericsson said: "Today, people see access to the internet as a prerequisite for any device. This mindset results in growing demand for mobile broadband and increased data traffic. Operators recognize this business opportunity and are aiming to facilitate this growth and provide good user experience with fast data speeds through high capacity networks. Today, around 75 percent of the HSPA networks worldwide have been upgraded to a peak speed of 7.2 Mbps or above and around 40 percent has been upgraded to 21 Mbps."

In the report, Ericsson also predicts that by 2017 half of the world's population will be covered by LTE/4G networks. Smartphone subscriptions will number around three billion in 2017, compared to 700 million in 2011. Total mobile data traffic continues to increase – between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012 data traffic doubled – the prime driver is video. Smartphones will remain a key data traffic driver and the report indicates that mobile data traffic will grow by 15 times between 2011 and 2017.

 The data also shows variations between countries and regions. In the case of mobile net additions, China added the most subscriptions for a single country in Q1 2012 with 39 million, followed by India with 25 million. The Asia Pacific region added a total of 93 million subscriptions, followed by Africa with 30 million.