According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017, 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 (United Nations estimates 7.6 billion) by 2017.
The forecast’s annual run rate of 134 exabytes of mobile data traffic is equivalent to:
The projected 2012 to 2017 global mobile data traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 66 per cent. 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:
In terms of the impact of Mobile Devices/Connections:
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 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:
In terms of mobile data traffic generation, the Asia-Pacific region is projected to generate the most mobile data traffic. This is the regional rank in terms of anticipated mobile data traffic generation by 2017:
The average mobile connection is expected to increase seven-fold from 2012 to 2017. Mobile connection speeds are a key factor in supporting mobile data traffic growth.
Cisco notes that many global mobile carriers are deploying 4G technologies to address consumer and business users’ demands for wireless services. In many emerging markets, carriers are creating new mobile networks with 4G solutions. In mature markets, carriers are supplementing or replacing legacy (2G/3G) networks with 4G technologies. The Cisco Mobile VNI study now projects the growth and impact of 4G.
Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Networking Marketing, Cisco, noted that by 2017, global mobile data traffic would continue its “truly remarkable” growth, increasing 13-fold over the next five years, to reach an amount more than 46 times the total amount of mobile IP traffic just a few years ago in 2010. “With such dramatic adoption, we are rapidly approaching the time when nearly every network experience will be a mobile one and, more often than not, a visual one as well. This trend is a result of the seemingly insatiable demand by consumers and businesses alike to achieve the benefits gained when connecting people, data, and things in an Internet of Everything,” he concluded.