Cisco says mobile internet traffic will hit the zettabyte mark by 2022

19 Feb 2019

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Cisco predicts that mobile internet traffic is set to reach an annual run rate close to a zettabyte in a few short years.

Cisco has today (19 February) released its latest Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) update, forecasting for the period 2017-2022. According to this early 2019 update, mobile traffic around the globe will be on the verge of hitting an annual run rate of a zettabyte by the end of the forecast period. 5G adoption is also set to make a serious impact in the coming years.

Mobile traffic on the up and up

Cisco predicts that nearly 20pc of global IP traffic will be represented by mobile devices, reaching 930 exabytes annually by the end of the forecast period. This is almost 113 times more than all global mobile traffic generated in 2012.

In 2017, there were 5bn mobile users worldwide. Over the next five years, this will increase by half a billion to 5.5bn users – 71pc of the global population. By 2022, mobile networks will support more than 8bn personal mobile devices and 4bn IoT connections.

Jonathan Davidson, senior vice-president and general manager of service provider business at Cisco, said: “As global mobile traffic approaches the zettabyte era, we believe that 5G and Wi-Fi will coexist as necessary and complementary access technologies, offering key benefits to our enterprise and service provider customers to extend their architectures.”

5G adoption will affect network speeds

Looking at 5G, Cisco says that by 2022, more than 3pc of total mobile connections will be powered by the new network standard. 5G will also account for nearly 12pc of global mobile data traffic by the same year.

On average, 5G connections are pegged to generate approximately three times more traffic (22GB monthly) than the average 8GB a month of a typical 4G connection today.

The speed of your average mobile network looks set to increase, too, partially driven by the adoption of 5G. Global average speeds could increase from 8.7Mbps in 2017 to 28.5Mbps by 2022.

Wi-Fi the old reliable

Wi-Fi will still be the main method most people around the world will use to go online for the next number of years, Cisco said. By 2022, 59pc of traffic be offloaded from mobile networks to Wi-Fi, compared to 54pc in 2017.

The company says that total IP traffic in 2022 will be a mix of 29pc wired, 51pc Wi-Fi and 9pc mobile. Globally, the total number of Wi-Fi hotspots including home spots will grow four times larger than 2017’s 124m to 549m by 2022.

Low-power wide area networks (LPWANs) will also see a slight boost in usage. By 2022, Cisco says LPWANs will support 14pc of mobile devices, up from 1.5pc in 2017.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects