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Cisco predicts massive mobile data traffic growth

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Cisco, global network specialist, predicts an exponential growth in mobile data traffic. The Middle East and Africa are expected to experience the largest growth, with an expected 129 percent compound annual growth rate projected in the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2010 to 2015.

According to the VNI report, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 26-fold during this time period reaching 6.3 exabytes per month or an annual run rate of 75 exabytes by 2015 due to a projected surge in mobile Internet-enabled devices delivering popular video applications and services. Of the 6.3 exabytes per month , 4.2 exabytes will be due to video

“Consumers and business users continue to demonstrate a healthy demand for mobile data services. The fact that global mobile data traffic increased 2.6-fold from 2009 to 2010, nearly tripling for the third year in a row, confirms the strength of the mobile Internet. The seemingly endless bevy of new mobile devices, combined with greater mobile broadband access, more content, and applications of all types — especially video — are the key catalysts driving this remarkable growth.” said Reshaad Sha, strategy director at Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group.

Mobile video content has much higher bit rates than other mobile content types and will generate much of the mobile traffic growth through 2015.

The Middle East and Africa will experience the highest Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 129 percent, increasing 63-fold over the forecast period. Emerging market regions (Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa) will have the highest growth and will represent an increasing share of total mobile data traffic, from 12 percent at the end of 2010 to 20 percent by 2015. The Middle East and Africa will have the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region at 129 percent CAGR, followed by Latin America at 111 percent and Central and Eastern Europe at 102 percent.

By the year 2015, the mobile network will break the electricity barrier in more than four major regions. Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East and 40 countries (including India, Indonesia, and Nigeria) will have more people with mobile network access than with access to electricity at home. The off-grid, on-net population will reach 138 million by 2015.

The Cisco study predicts that by 2015, more than 5.6 billion personal devices will be connected to mobile networks, and there will also be 1.5 billion machine-to-machine nodes — nearly the equivalent of one mobile connection for every person in the world. Mobile video is forecast to represent 66 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2015, increasing 35-fold from 2010 to 2015, the highest growth rate of any mobile data application tracked in the Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast. Mobile traffic originating from tablet devices is expected to grow 205-fold from 2010 to 2015, the highest growth rate of any device category tracked.

Facts and Projections

  • There will be 788 million mobile-only Internet users by 2015. The mobile-only Internet population will grow 56-fold from 14 million at the end of 2010 to 788 million by the end of 2015
    • This traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 92 percent over the same period. Two major global trends are driving these significant mobile data traffic increases: a continued surge in mobile-ready devices such as tablets and smart phones, and widespread mobile video content consumption.
  • India has the highest national mobile data traffic growth rate, with a CAGR of 158 percent (115-fold growth) for the forecast period, followed by South Africa, with a 144 percent CAGR (87-fold growth), and Mexico, with a 131 percent CAGR (66-fold growth). Comparatively, the United Kingdom will see an 84 percent CAGR (21-fold growth), and the U.S. an 83 percent CAGR (21-fold growth), according to the updated forecast

Global Mobile Device and Customer Milestones

  • The Cisco study estimates that by 2015, there will be a mobile connected device for nearly every member of the world’s population (7.2 billion people per United Nations’ population estimate) and more than 7.1 billion mobile connections to handsets, other devices and machine-to-machine nodes (excluding Wi-Fi connections, per Cisco Visual Networking Index methodology).
  • Today, the average mobile connection generates 65 megabytes of traffic per month, equivalent to about 15 MP3 music files. By 2015, the average mobile connection is anticipated to generate more than 17 times that amount, to a total of 1,118 megabytes of traffic per month, equivalent to about 260 MP3 music files.
  • Smart phones, laptops, and other portable devices will drive more than 87 percent of global mobile traffic by 2015.
  • Mobile network-connected tablets will generate more traffic in 2015 (248 petabytes per month) than the entire global mobile network in 2010 (237 petabytes per month). The same will be true of machine-to-machine (M2M) traffic, which will reach 295 petabytes per month in 2015.

By Angela Meadon

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