Cisco Projects 13-Fold Growth in Global Mobile Internet Data Traffic by 2017

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Cisco has said that it now predictst that worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 13 fold over the next four years reaching 11.2 exabytes per month (for an annual run rate of 134 exabytes) by 2017. The expected steady increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile internet connections (personal devices and machine to machine applications) which will exceed the world's population by 2017.

The projected 2012 to 2017 global mobile data traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 66 percent. The incremental amount of traffic being added to the mobile Internet just between 2016 and 2017 is 3.7 exabytes per month, which is more than four times the estimated size of the entire mobile Internet in 2012 (885 petabytes per month).

During the 2012 to 2017 forecast period, Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outpace global fixed data traffic by a factor of three. The following major trends are driving global mobile data traffic growth:

  • More mobile users: By 2017, there will be 5.2 billion mobile users (up from 4.3 billion in 2012).
  • More mobile connections: By 2017, there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices/connections, including more than 1.7 billion M2M connections (up from 7 billion total mobile devices and M2M connections in 2012).
  • Faster mobile speeds: Average global mobile network speeds will increase seven-fold from 2012 (0.5 Mbps) to 2017 (3.9 Mbps).
  • More mobile video: By 2017, mobile video will represent 66 percent of global mobile data traffic (up from 51 percent in 2012).

Impact of Mobile Devices/Connections

  • Smartphones, laptops, and tablets will drive 93 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2017.
  • M2M traffic (such as GPS systems in cars, asset tracking systems, medical applications, etc.) will represent 5 percent of 2017 global mobile data traffic.
  • Basic handsets will account for the remaining 2 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2017.
  • In 2012, 14 percent of all mobile-connected devices/connections (1 billion) were IPv6-capable.
  • By 2017, 41 percent of all mobile-connected devices/connections (4.2 billion) will be IPv6-capable.

Traffic Offload from Mobile Networks to Fixed Networks

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.

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

Key Regional Growth Projections

In terms of mobile data traffic growth rates over the forecast period, the Middle East and Africa region is projected to have the highest regional growth rate. Below is how each of the regions ranks in terms of growth rate by 2017:

  • The Middle East and Africa: 77 percent CAGR (17.3-fold growth)
  • Asia-Pacific: 76 percent CAGR (16.9-fold growth)
  • Latin America: 67 percent CAGR (13.2-fold growth)
  • Central and Eastern Europe: 66 percent CAGR (12.8-fold growth)
  • North America: 56 percent CAGR (9.4-fold growth)
  • Western Europe: 50 percent CAGR (7.6-fold growth)

In terms of mobile data traffic generation, the Asia-Pacific region is projected to generate the most mobile data traffic. Here's how each of the regions rank in terms of anticipated mobile data traffic generation by 2017:

  • Asia-Pacific: 5.3 exabytes/month
  • North America: 2.1 exabytes/month
  • Western Europe: 1.4 exabytes/month
  • The Middle East and Africa: 0.9 exabytes/month
  • Central and Eastern Europe: 0.8 exabytes/month
  • Latin America: 0.7 exabytes/month

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