New Delhi: Mobile phone use in India is climbing rapidly, with 26 million new connections in the first three months of 2015 added to the already existing base of 900 million mobile phone users, says a new report by Sweden-based telecom major Ericsson released on Wednesday.

Close on the heels is China which added eight million new users in the same period, followed by other developing markets such as Myanmar, Indonesia and Japan. Globally, 108 million new mobile phone subscribers were added in this period and the total mobile subcriptions stands at 7.2 billion, says the report.

The use of smartphones too is increasing rapidly. By 2020, it is expected that 70% of the world’s population or seven out 10 people will have a smartphone, says the report.

“This is due to greater affordability in developing markets such as Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa," it said. “5G subscriptions will be commercially available in 2020, and subscription uptake is expected to be faster than 4G. This growth will be driven to a large extent by new use cases, especially machine-type communication."

In 2014 alone, more than 700 million new connections (SIM cards) were used in smartphones. Many existing subscribers too migrated from their basic phones to smartphones, taking the total smartphone connections to 2.6 billion.

“While it took over five years to reach the one-billion smartphone subscription, a milestone that was hit in 2012, it took less than two years to reach the second billion," the report stated.

The overall number of mobile connections is expected to reach 9.2 billion in 2020, of which 6.1 billion will be used in smarphones. Almost 80% of smartphone subscriptions added during 2015-20 will be from Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, says the report.

With increasing connections to smartphones, the mobile data traffic is expected to rise at a compounded annual growth rate of around 45%, resulting in a nine-fold rise in traffic by 2020 end. “Mobile data traffic growth is due to both the rising number of smartphone subscriptions and increasing data consumption per subscriber," the report said.

There will be a 10-fold growth in smartphone traffic between 2014 and 2020. By then, 80% of mobile data traffic will be from smartphones with Asia Pacific generating 45% of total smartphone traffic by 2020 end.

“This immense growth in advanced mobile technology and data usage, driven by a surge in mobile connectivity and smartphone uptake, will makes today’s big data revolution feel like the arrival of a floppy disk. We see the potential for mass-scale transformation, bringing a wealth of opportunities for telecom operators and others to capture new revenue streams. But it also requires greater focus on cost efficient delivery and openness to new business models to compete and remain effective," said Rima Qureshi, senior vice-president and chief strategy officer at Ericsson.

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