The number of mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide looks set to hit one billion this year, says Ericsson.

"During the course of 2010, a significant milestone in terms of mobile broadband subscriptions was reached as their number surpassed the half-a-billion mark globally," the mobile network manufacturer said.

"Ericsson estimates that this number will double before 2011 ends."

Ericsson said Asia was likely to account for the most mobile broadband subscriptions, around 400 million of the total, while Europe and North America would come a close second with an estimated 200 million subscriptions each.

Growing data traffic is seen driving revenue for telecoms operators and leading to increased investment in networks, boosting revenues for gear suppliers like Ericsson.

In 2008, there were just 200 million mobile broadband subscriptions. Ericsson also predicts this will grow to 3.8 billion by 2015.

Ericsson believes the growth is down to the increase in sales of tablet PCs, such as Apple's iPad, as well a increased sales of smartphones and the move towards Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks that utilises the 800MHz band, which is currently being used for terrestrial TV broadcasts but will be free once the digital switchover is complete.

See also: Mobile broadband coming to digital cameras