On the up ... mobile data traffic doubled over the past year. Photo: AFP
The amount of data used by mobile devices doubled over the past year, boosted by growth in video streaming services, according to a study by Swedish telecom group Ericsson.
Data traffic doubled in the third quarter of this year on an annual basis, and rose 16 per cent from the previous quarter, it said.
The trend is set to continue, with the amount of information transferred over mobile networks doubling every year for the next six years, driven in large part by users accessing more video content.
Computers and tablets currently dominate mobile traffic, but the high growth in smartphone subscriptions means data consumption will be split equally between the two in 2018.
"Smartphone traffic is growing faster due to the high growth in subscriptions," the report said.
About 40 per cent of all phones sold in the third quarter of this year were smartphones.
Mobile devices have turned social media into an activity that consumers engage in throughout the day, Ericsson noted.
"It has begun to influence and merge with other behaviours, such as watching TV and other video content," it said.
"The two activities are instead done in parallel or even merged into a new kind of behaviour."
The study also highlighted that using free game apps that are financed by advertising often leads to significantly higher data consumption for the user than the paid-for, premium versions of the software.
Global mobile penetration reached 91 per cent in the third quarter this year. The total number of mobile subscriptions is expected to reach 6.6 billion this year and 9.3 billion in 2018, the report said.