Subscriptions to mobile broadband services are likely to reach five billion worldwide, according to predictions from Ericsson.
New research has shown that the world's mobile data traffic could grow ten-fold in the next five years, mainly driven by demand for online video content.
According to the findings, from Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions will be 900 million globally by the end of 2011. It said the figure could be almost five billion by 2016.
Ericsson's Traffic and Market Data study suggests subscription to mobile broadband is growing by 60% each year. The predictions are based on measurements the company recorded over several years, in live networks covering every corner of the planet.
Johan Wibergh, head of Ericsson Business Unit Networks, said: "This report offers snapshots that, together, show how a growing number of people and businesses benefit from mobility, broadband and the cloud."
Across all kinds of devices, from laptops to smartphones and tablets, internet access continues to drive mobile data traffic, with demand for online video having a major impact on overall usage of 3G networks worldwide.
The findings are perhaps unsurprising, as separate UK research has shown that almost one in three day-to-day activities now involve an internet connection.
A survey of 20,000 Brits, carried out by broadband provider TalkTalk, found that 30% of everything we do at home - from researching an illness to finding a plumber - is now done online.
Internet banking is used by 86% of UK households with broadband, while 96% make at least one online purchase each year.