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Ericsson estimates mobile lines have hit 5 billion, gives shout out to China and India for the help

Chris Ziegler

Ericsson -- one of the world's top-tier infrastructure suppliers for mobile networks -- has crunched some numbers recently, figuring the five billionth cellphone line came into existence last Wednesday, July 8, largely from major surges in uptake in emerging markets like China and India. Mobile broadband access (which we take to mean access to 3G speeds and beyond) still trails significantly at just 360 million in 2009, though they're predicting a cool 3.4 billion users by 2015. To put things in perspective, Ericsson points out that we were at 720 million mobile lines in 2000 (and about 2.7 billion in 2007), so that's some pretty spectacular growth over the decade -- particularly considering that we're coming up on the Earth's population now. Of course, we don't know what happens when the world finally has more mobile subscriptions than it has humans -- but need we remind you that 2012 is drawing near? Follow the break for the full press release.

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Mobile subscriptions hit 5 billion mark

· 2 million additions per day

· More than 500 million 3G subscriptions

· 50 billion connected devices by 2020

This week marked yet another milestone in the internet becoming mobile when the 5 billionth mobile subscription added to the count, largely thanks to emerging markets like India and China.

According to Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) estimates based on industry information, the 5 billionth subscription was added Thursday, July 8.

In the year 2000, about 720 million people had mobile subscriptions, less than the amount of users China alone has today.

Mobile broadband subscriptions are growing at similar pace and are expected to amount to more than 3.4 billion by 2015 (from 360 million in 2009). Studies show that soon 80 percent of all people accessing the internet will be doing so using their mobile device.

For some it's a question of convenience, for others a necessity. Mobile subscriptions allow people who don't have access to a bank or a bank account to transfer money; fishermen and farmers can get quick updates on sudden changes in the weather forecast, villagers to get local medical care, and children to access online education. It facilitates daily operations of small businesses and drives economic growth.

In more mature markets, connected devices rather than people, are driving the increase in network traffic. According to Ericsson's vision we will reach 50 billion connections within this decade.

The communication landscape is changing rapidly and in December of last year, another milestone was reached when the amount of data traffic carried over mobile networks exceeded the amount of traffic generated from voice calls.

Machine-to-machine communications, or M2M, will be a key component in the future growth of the mobile industry. For energy companies it could be smart meters that read themselves, increase business efficiency and cut operational expenses. In transportation - tracking solutions improve route optimization and safety for vehicles on the road. Digital signs that can be updated remotely, cameras that can send pictures halfway around the world and even a soda machine that requests restocking when needed are other examples that machine-to-machine technology make possible.

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