Global mobile broadband subscriptions grew 45 percent in the first quarter of 2013 to 1.7 billion, according to Ericsson's latest mobility report.
Including non-broadband mobile subscriptions, global mobile subscribers hit 6.4 billion in the most recent quarter, with Ericsson projecting 9.1 billion subscriptions by the end of 2018.
Date usage per subscription was also up, as 50 percent of all mobile phones sold in the first quarter were smartphones. Ericsson notes that there's room for continued growth in global smartphone adoption, as only 20 to 25 percent of all mobile subscriptions are associated with a smartphone.
More subscriptions, more smartphones, and faster networks have resulted in the total amount of data traffic doubling over the same quarter last year.
Video contributed to that traffic and will continue to grow in the coming years. Ericsson expects video to account for over half of all data traffic globally by 2018.
Part of the increased video traffic is due to the continued rollout of next-generation networks. Ericsson predicts that 60 percent of the world's population due to be covered by LTE in 2018.
Douglas Gilstrap, senior vice president and head of strategy at Ericsson, said in a statement that Ericsson expects LTE subscriptions to exceed 1 billion in 2017, driven by more capable devices and demand for data-intensive services such as video.
"Owing to the build out of WCDMA/HSPA, network speeds have improved, and so has the user experience," Gilstrap said.