Global mobile internet data traffic to increase 13-fold by 2017 – Cisco

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The rise and rise of mobile internet connections will lead worldwide mobile data traffic to explode 13-fold over the next four years, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month, a new Cisco report forecasts.

An exabyte is measured as a unit of information of computer storage equal to 1 quintillion bytes.

The number of mobile internet connections is expected to surpass the world’s population (the United Nations puts estimates at 7.6bn) by 2017, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017.

The forecast’s annual run rate of 134 exabytes of mobile data traffic is equivalent to:

  • 134 times all the internet protocol traffic (fixed and mobile) generated in the year 2000
  • 30trn images (eg, via MMS or Instagram) – 10 images daily from each person on earth for one year
  • 3trn video clips (eg, YouTube) – one video clip daily from each person on earth over one year.

The projected 2012 to 2017 global mobile data traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 66pc.

During the 2012 to 2017, Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outpace global fixed data traffic by a factor of three, as the result of several factors.

By 2017, there will be more mobile users – 5.2bn to be more precise, an increase from 4.3bn in 2012. As a result, there will be more mobile connections, as well. By 2017, the report predicts there will be more than 10bn mobile devices/connections, including more than 1.7bn M2M connections (up from 7bn total mobile devices and M2M connections in 2012).

Mobile speeds will be faster by 2017, as well, with average global mobile network speeds increasing seven-fold from 2012 at 0.5Mbps to 3.9Mbps in 2017.

Mobile video will rise by 51pc from 2012 to represent 66pc of global mobile data traffic in 2017, the report suggests.

Mobile devices to drive 93pc of global mobile data traffic in four years

The main drivers of this increase in global mobile data traffic by 2017 will be, obviously, mobile devices: Smartphones, laptops, and tablets are forecast to fuel 93pc of the traffic by that year.

"To address the rise in demand for mobile internet, and to address the lack of available new mobile spectrum and the expense and complexity of adding new macrocell sites, service providers are increasingly looking to offload traffic to fixed or Wi-Fi networks," Cisco said.

In 2012, 33pc of total mobile data traffic was offloaded (428 petabytes/month), and by 2017, 46pc of total mobile data traffic will be offloaded (9.6 exabytes/month).

The Middle East and Africa region is projected to have the highest regional growth rate, at 77pc CAGR (17.3-fold growth), followed by Asia-Pacific, at 76pc CAGR (16.9pc-fold growth).

Western Europe is forecast to experience the least growth, at 50pc CAGR (7.6-fold growth).

Mobile data image via Shutterstock

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Tina held senior editorial positions at daily newspapers in Ottawa and Toronto

editorial@siliconrepublic.com