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3G mobile broadband coverage is increasing across the globe, enabling more laptop and tablet users to access the internet.

According to Ericsson, 3G services - which allow dongle users to access the web - will be available to 85 per cent of the world's population by 2017.

This will replicate the 2G coverage levels seen today, according to the network equipment provider.

At present, roughly half of the world's population has access to 3G services, but significant network investment is expected in some regions over the coming five years.

Ericsson said that by 2017, there will be almost nine billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, up from 6.2 billion in 2012.

The firm predicted that global mobile data traffic will increase fifteen-fold by the end of 2017.

And mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to leap from one billion at the end of 2011 to five billion by the end of 2017.

"Today, people see access to the internet as a prerequisite for any device," Ericsson Strategy Chief Douglas Gilstrap stated.

"This mindset results in growing demand for mobile broadband and increased data traffic."

Ericsson also expects 50 per cent of the global populous to have access to next-generation 4G services - and as a result, super-fast mobile broadband - by 2017.

In the UK, next-generation services are likely to be launched in 2013 or 2014 following Ofcom's auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz radio spectrum.

Everything Everywhere is hoping to launch 4G mobile services using its existing 1,800MHz spectrum in 2012, depending upon the outcome of an ongoing Ofcom auction.

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