Mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 12 times in the next four years or from now until 2018. The growth is seen to be driven by the fast roll-out of LTE (4G) connectivity to about 60 percent of the population worldwide and the expected 60 percent annual growth of video streaming on mobile phones, according to a recent report by network equipment supplier Ericsson.

Total mobile traffic has been doubling each year, faster than on PCs, according to the report, driven by more smartphone subscribers, faster networks and the popularity of mobile video streaming from YouTube and other similar sites.

Ericsson forecasts global smartphone subscriptions to increase from 1.2 billion in 2012 to 4.5 billion by the end of 2018 — a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 percent.

Ericsson’s report also shows that video is now the largest component of mobile data traffic and that it is expected to grow annually by around 60 percent until the end of 2018 when it is forecast to make up about 50 percent of total global traffic.

The report also projects music streaming to have an annual growth rate of around 50 percent.

Don McCullough, Ericsson’s communications director said that LTE is “making the biggest known jump in networking technology.”  He added that to compare, it took 20 and 15 years for GSMA and HSPA respectively to reach the global spread it has today. LTE is forecast to achieve the same reach in seven years.