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Cisco predicts 10-fold mobile data traffic growth


February 3, 2015  


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According to the latest annual update of the Cisco® Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2014 to 2019, the ongoing adoption of more powerful mobile devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections combined with broader access to faster cellular networks are key contributors to significant mobile traffic growth.

In 2014, 88% of global mobile data traffic was “smart” traffic, with advanced computing/multi-media capabilities and a minimum of 3G connectivity, but that figure is expected to rise to 97% by 2019.

According to Cisco, the worldwide shift from basic-feature phones to smartphones — combined with the continued growth in tablets, a resurgence in laptops with tablet-like capabilities as well as expanding machine-to-machine (M2M) applications — are key factors supporting the increasing smart traffic trend.

“From a global mobile network perspective, 3G is expected to surpass 2G as the top cellular technology, based on connection share, by 2017. By 2019, 3G networks will support 44% of global mobile devices and connections; 4G networks will support 26% of connections, though will generate 68% of traffic.

In terms of topline traffic growth, the Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast projects that global mobile data traffic will reach an annual run rate of 292 exabytes by 2019, up from 30 exabytes in 2014. These predicted 292 exabytes would represent:

  • 292 times more than all Internet Protocol (IP) traffic, fixed and mobile, generated in 2000; or
  • 65 trillion images (e.g., multimedia message service or Instagram)—23 daily images per person on earth for a year; or
  • 6 trillion video clips (e.g., YouTube)—more than two daily video clips per person on earth for a year.

An exabyte is a unit of information or computer storage equal to one quintillion bytes or one billion gigabytes.

From 2014 to 2019, Cisco anticipates that global mobile traffic growth will outpace global fixed traffic growth by a factor of three. Trends driving mobile data traffic growth include:

  • More mobile users: By 2019, there will be 5.2 billion mobile users (up from 4.3 billion in 2014). In 2014, nearly 59% of the world’s population (7.2 billion people) was comprised of mobile users; by 2019, more than 69% of the world’s population (7.6 billion people) will be mobile users.
  • More mobile connections: By 2019, there will be approximately 11.5 billion mobile-ready devices/connections, including 8.3 billion personal mobile devices and 3.2 billion M2M connections (up from 7.4 billion total mobile-ready devices and M2M connections in 2014).
  • Faster mobile speeds: Average global mobile network speeds will increase 2.4 fold from 2014 (1.7 Mbps) to 2019 (4.0 Mbps).
  • More mobile video: By 2019, mobile video will represent 72% of global mobile data traffic (up from 55 percent in 2014).

“The ongoing adoption of more powerful mobile devices and wider deployments of emerging M2M applications, combined with broader access to faster wireless networks, will be key contributors to significant mobile traffic growth in the coming years,” said Doug Webster, Cisco’s vice president of products and solutions marketing.

“ This mobile-centric environment will give service providers a new landscape of challenges and opportunities to innovatively deliver a variety of mobile services and experiences to consumers and business users as the Internet of Everything (IoE) continues to take shape.”


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