Mobile data traffic in the Middle East and North East Africa is estimated to grow 14 times between 2014 and 2020, trumping the global growth rate, a new study showed.
According to a report by telecommunications firm Ericsson, mobile data traffic globally is only expected to grow nine times during the same period.
As overall data traffic grows, the amount of data used by each user is also set to rise. By 2020, the data usage by each active smartphone user is forecast to increase from an average of 0.8GB in 2014 to approximately 5GB, Ericsson noted.
Meanwhile mobile subscriptions are also set to grow as the region improves its investments in the ICT sector.
The region had about 680 million mobile subscriptions by the end of 2014. This is further forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6 per cent by 2020, reaching 970 million.
LTE subscriptions are also on rise in the region and are expected to triple in 2015 alone, the report said. They are estimated to surpass 210 million by 2020, comprising 20 per cent of all mobile subscriptions in the region.
As of 2014, about 17 per cent of all mobile subscriptions were from smartphones. But with the advent of cheaper smartphones and as mobile broadband rollouts pick up pace, smartphone subscriptions are predicted to rise.
Of the 970 million mobile subscriptions forecast by 2020, 40 per cent will come from smartphones, the report said.
“The ICT transformation has been phenomenal across the region,” said Rafiah Ibrahim, president, Ericsson, Region Middle East and East Africa.
“Such transformation is far beyond simple technological innovation, it calls us to reshape existing business models and infrastructure environments. In the future, it will address completely new needs arising from technological and consumer behavioral changes.”
Consumers in the Gulf specifically have adopted 4G technology with the region boasting of one of the world’s highest LTE-capable smartphone penetration rates, a previous study by Boston Consulting Group showed.
But as adoption rates increase, user demands too will grow, experts say.
The BCG report showed that about 90 per cent of 3G and 4G consumers want even faster data speeds, more coverage, more battery life, and other improvements in future.