The amount of data used monthly by each active smartphone in the Middle East and North East Africa (MENA) region will increase more than fivefold by 2020, according to a new report.
The average smartphone in 2014 used around 0.8GB of mobile data, but that will rise to approximately 5GB within five years, Ericsson found in its Mobility Report.
Meanwhile, mobile data traffic in the region is expected to grow 14 times between 2014 and 2020, while globally data will multiply nine times.
Patrik Melander, head of the customer unit for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Pakistan at Ericsson, suggested the report indicates how mobile operators should work on encouraging customers on to LTE subscriptions, which were at less than 10% in the UAE.
"Globally, we see that a user consumes three to five times more data with an LTE subscription, as compared to 3G. These numbers matter because they drive traffic, and revenues for operators if they use best practices on how to monetise data," he explained.
However, despite the relatively low number of LTE subscriptions, the GCC market was still categorised as an "advanced" market in the report – with high smartphone penetration rates a likely reason for the labelling.
The region boasted around 680 million mobile subscriptions at the end of last year. Over the course of the next five years, it is forecast that mobile subscriptions will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6%, amassing to 970 million.
In the shorter term, LTEs are expected to triple in 2015, growing to more than 210 million by 2020, which equates to around 20% of all mobile subscriptions.
Rafiah Ibrahim, president of Ericsson - Middle East and East Africa, said: "As an advanced market, the GCC is taking significant steps towards life in the networked society, especially with the path it's taking towards its Smart City vision, which is prominent in the UAE. Convenience and usability often determine how users perform a particular task in this region, and connectivity is now part of the mainstream."