Ericsson: Streaming Video Drives Mobile Data Demands

A child streams content on his phone while wearing headphones.
(Image credit: Cavan Images via Getty Images)

Video streaming, including conferencing, was a big driver of mobile broadband network data traffic increases during the pandemic, but it is a long-term driver of explosive broadband data traffic growth as well and operators will need to optimize their networks to make sure performance matches that demand.

That is according to Ericsson's latest Mobility Report, which found an almost 300-fold increase in mobile data traffic in the past 10 years.

Also: Video Will Consume 76% of Mobile Capacity in Five Years

Over the long term, the report said, mobile traffic growth will be driven by the rising number of smartphones tapping into networks--5.5 billion have been added worldwide since 2011--in combination with rising data volumes driven primarily by video streaming.

Based on current and historical network data Ericsson looked at, video traffic currently makes up 69% of all mobile data traffic, and that is expected to rise to 79% by 2027, with 5G predicted to become the the dominant player by 2027, with a global estimate of 660 million subscriptions worldwide by year's end.

Network performance will need to keep up with the demands of that increased traffic to ensure a "positive user experience," but Ericsson suggests streaming will piggyback on the greater need for speed to keep up with Web browsers.

"Video streaming accounts for the majority of mobile network traffic, and has naturally been a focus area for improvement," the report said. "Compression techniques and adaptive mechanisms have been very effective at lowering the time-to-play and adapting to changing network conditions. But while streaming is buffered, web services place higher demands on network performance
as they require instant speed. Therefore, meeting the requirements for web browsing will also satisfy the demands of many other use cases, including HD video streaming and social media." ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.