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In the grim, urban future, over half of the planet will have a mobile broadband subscription, according to a report from Ericsson.

The new Traffic and Market Data report (PDF) is predicting that there'll be 5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions by 2016 out of a US-Census-Bureau projected population of 7.3 billion (although the number of subscriptions will not exactly match the number of subscribers as some users will have more than one).

Mobile data traffic is also expected to surge, growing 60 per cent a year every year between now and 2016, mostly driven by video.

Around 30 per cent of the web-hungry world population will live in "metropolitan and urban areas with a density of more than a 1,000 people per square kilometre", Ericsson's dystopian vision of the future foretells.

These cities, which will be less than 1 per cent of the Earth's total land area, will be generating around 60 per cent of total mobile traffic.

Despite what seems like a rather bleak vision of our destiny, telco tech and services provider Ericsson seems to be feeling good about the future.

"We live in exciting times... In all parts of the world, people are adopting more advanced mobile devices that enable connectivity anywhere, anytime. This trend is taking us towards a society where places, people and devices are constantly connected – a networked society," the report said.

The company said that as of Q3 2011, the number of general mobile subscribers reached 3.9 billion, just over half of the current world population, while mobile broadband subscriptions will reach 900 million by the end of this year.

"There is continued strong momentum for smartphone uptake in all regions. Approximately 30 per cent of all handsets sold in Q3 were smartphones, compared to around 20 per cent for the full year 2010. However, only around 10 per cent of the worldwide installed base of subscriptions use smartphones, which means that there is considerable room for further uptake," the report said.

And although we'll all be rammed into tiny spaces in massive metropolises, our connected society will be helping the economy.

According to Ericsson, doubling the broadband speed in an economy bucks up GDP by 0.3 per cent and getting a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration will boost your GDP around 1 per cent. And in better news for the workers, for every 1,000 new broadband connections, 80 new jobs are created.

"The link between improved communication speeds and economic growth made by this research is a proof point that we are moving from the information society to the networked society," Ericsson said. ®

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