By 2017 there is predicted to be 9bn mobile subscriptions,whilst the US census predicts the global population to be 7.4billion by this time.
Ericsson produced its second Traffic and Market report by monitoring traffic on its own circuits, noticing a demand for video, internet and cloud usage. By looking at data traffic, the technology company believe by 2017 85% of humanity will live within range of a broadband signal, a huge increase from half of the population as it stands today.
Within that time, half of us will be in range of superfast, 4G mobile networks, up from 315 million today.
"In 2008, there were 4bn mobile subscriptions," said Ericsson's chief executive, Hans Vestberg. "By 2017 there will be close to 9bn subscriptions. With this kind of mobility and connectivity everywhere, there will be no differentiation between a business user and a private user."
Ericsson also identified the three types of smartphones that were responsible for most of the internet traffic from handsets. Internet usage is highest among owners of iPhones, followed by Android and Windows Phone subscribers. With a deeper analysis of traffic timings, 40% of smartphone owners use the internet before bed, as well as a 70% rise during their daily commute.
Mobile broadband subscriptions have now grown 60% year on year to 1.1bn, with 5bn predicted by 2017. In addition, most people's experience of the internet will be through a mobile phone, and the number of handsets with an internet connection is expected to grow.
Screen size affects internet use, which is four times as much on laptops than on high traffic smartphones – two gigabytes versus 500 megabytes per month. In five years, traffic will have grown to an estimated 8GB for laptops versus 1GB for smartphones.
In the first quarter of this year, there were 6.2bn mobile subscriptions, less than the estimated 7bn world population. However, with individuals owning multiple devices, the number of subscribers stood at 4.2bn.
Western Europe already has 126% penetration, while Africa has just 55%, with families or villages often sharing a single phone. Africa already has more subscriptions than Europe, however, with 680m compared to 540m for Europe.
China has 1bn subscriptions, and along with India accounted for the majority of the 170m new subscriptions in the first quarter.