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Even though 4G’s share of cellular subscriptions stood at a meager 2.9% at the end of 2Q 2013, it is expected to account for slightly more than 20% of the total data consumed on mobile networks worldwide this year. After surpassing 3G networks in 2016, 4G networks will go on to capture two-thirds of data traffic by 2018, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research (www.abirsearch.com).
4G data traffic will surge at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 82.2% between this year and 2018. Underpinning this trend is the aggressive LTE network deployment by wireless operators and the expanding portfolio of smartphones and tablets which are also falling in price.
"These two factors work hand in hand to enable consumers to stream videos,: says 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 of 60.6% to exceed 100 Exabyte in 2018."
Despite growing at the slowest rate, Internet surfing will still contribute to 27% of the data traffic consumed.
"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,” notes Jake Saunders, practice director and vice president, core forecasting, ABI Research. "However, voice service revenue will still take up the bulk (52.7%) of the global total in 2018. Operators still need to improve their voice quality and not lose sight of this segment."