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Cisco projects nearly 11-fold hike in global mobile data traffic

February 5, 2014  

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According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013 to 2018, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase nearly 11-fold over the next four years and reach an annual run rate of 190 exabytes by 2018.

The projected increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile Internet connections, such as personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, which will exceed 10 billion by 2018 and be 1.4 times greater than the world’s population (the United Nations estimates 7.6 billion people by 2018).

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

The Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast’s annual run rate of 190 exabytes of mobile data traffic for 2018 is equivalent to:

* 190 times more than all IP traffic, fixed and mobile, generated in 2000.

* 42 trillion images (e.g., multimedia message service or Instagram)—15 daily images per person on earth for a year; or

* 4 trillion video clips (e.g., YouTube)—more than one daily video clip per person on earth for a year.

The incremental amount of traffic being added to the mobile Internet just between 2017 and 2018 is 5.1 exabytes per month, which is more than three times the estimated size of the entire mobile Internet in 2013 (1.5 exabytes per month.

From 2013 to 2018, Cisco anticipates that global mobile traffic growth will outpace global fixed traffic growth by a factor of three. The following trends are driving mobile data traffic growth:

* More mobile users: By 2018, there will be 4.9 billion mobile users, up from 4.1 billion in 2013.

* More mobile connections: By 2018, there will be more than 10 billion mobile-ready devices/connections—including eight billion personal mobile devices and two billion M2M connections, up from seven billion total mobile-ready devices and M2M connections in 2013.

* Faster mobile speeds: Average global mobile network speeds will nearly double from 1.4 Mbps in 2013 to 2.5 Mbps by 2018.

* More mobile video: By 2018, mobile video will represent 69% of global mobile data traffic, up from 53% in 2013.

* Globally, 54% of mobile connections will be “smart” connections by 2018, up from 21% in 2013. Smart devices and connections have advanced computing/multi-media capabilities and a minimum of 3G connectivity.

* Smartphones, laptops, and tablets will drive about 94% of global mobile data traffic by 2018. M2M traffic will represent 5% of 2018 global mobile data traffic while basic handsets will account for 1% of global mobile data traffic by 2018.

* Mobile cloud traffic will grow 12-fold from 2013 to 2018, a 64% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

M2M refers to applications that enable wireless and wired systems to communicate with similar devices to support global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation systems, asset tracking, utility meters, security and surveillance video. A new “wearable devices” sub-segment has been added to the M2M connections category to help project the growth trajectory of the company’s Internet of Everything (IoE) strategy.

Wearable devices, said Cisco, include things that are worn by people such as smart watches, smart glasses, health and fitness trackers, wearable scanners with capability to connect and communicate to the network either directly via embedded cellular connectivity or through another device such as a smartphone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

In 2013, M2M connections represented nearly 5% of mobile-connected devices in use and generated more than one percent of total mobile data traffic.

By 2018, M2M connections will represent nearly 20% of mobile-connected devices in use and generate almost 6% of total mobile data traffic.

Further coverage will appear in the March/April issue of Connections+.