4G networks are set to handle more data traffic than 3G ones by 2016, according to a new study from ABI Research.
Although 4G infrastructure supported just 2.9% of all mobile subscriptions at the end of June 2013, it is on course to account for more than 20% of all mobile data traffic by the end of this year, according to ABI Research.
The market-research company also predicts that 4G networks will account for two thirds of all data by 2018.
Aggressive 4G deployment and the falling price of 4G smartphones and tablets are the main drivers of this development.
“These two factors work hand in hand to enable consumers to stream videos,” said Ying Kang Tan, a 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 exabytes in 2018.”
Although it is forecast to grow at a slower rate, internet surfing will still account for as much as 27% of data traffic consumed by 2018, says ABI Research.
“The result is that the revenue generated from data traffic – excluding that from texting – will increase at a CAGR of 7.9% between 2013 and 2018,” said Jake Saunders, practice director and vice president of core forecasting for ABI Research. “However, voice service revenue will still take up … 52.7% of the global total in 2018. Operators still need to improve their voice quality and not lose sight of this segment.”