Seven-Fold Increase in Global Mobile Data Traffic from 2016-21, Cisco Reports

by February 9, 2017 0 comments

By 2021, more members of the global population will be using mobile phones (5.5 billion) than bank accounts (5.4 billion), running water (5.3 billion), or landlines (2.9 billion), according to the 11th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 to 2021). Strong growth in mobile users, smartphones, and Internet of Things (IoT) connections as well as network speed improvements and mobile video consumption are projected to increase mobile data traffic seven-fold over the next five years.

By 2021, Mobile data traffic to represent 20 percent of total IP traffic—up from just 8 percent of total IP traffic in 2016. Mobile network connection speeds will increase three-fold from 6.8 Mbps in 2016 to 20.4 Mbps by 2021 and Machine-to-machine (M2M) connections will represent 29 percent (3.3 billion) of total mobile connections—up from 5 percent (780 million) in 2016. M2M will be the fastest growing mobile connection type as global IoT applications continue to gain traction in consumer and business environments.

The explosion of mobile applications and adoption of mobile connectivity by end users is fueling the growth of 4G, soon to be followed by 5G growth. Industry experts anticipate large-scale deployments of 5G infrastructures to begin by 2020. Mobile carriers will need the innovative speed, low latency, and dynamic provisioning capabilities that 5G networks are expected to deliver not just increasing subscriber demands, but also new services trends across mobile, residential, and business markets. 5G will account for 1.5 percent of total mobile data traffic by 2021, and will generate 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection and 10.7 times more traffic than the average 3G connection.

“With the proliferation of IoT, live mobile video, augmented and virtual reality applications, and more innovative experiences for consumer and business users alike, 5G technology will have significant relevance not just for mobility but rather for networking as a whole,” said Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing at Cisco. “As a result, broader and more extensive architectural transformations involving programmability and automation will also be needed to support the capabilities 5G enables, and to address not just today’s demands but also the extensive possibilities on the horizon.”

According to Sanjay Kaul, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC, “As India leaps towards a digital economy, 2016 alone saw a huge growth in mobile traffic – by 76% from last year and, by 2021 consumer mobile traffic will grow 7.4-fold at a CAGR of 49% y-o-y. Much of this growth will be fueled by massive consumer adoption of smartphones, IoT, smart devices and use of machine-to-machine connections with an estimated 1,380 million mobile-connected devices by 2021. As the Internet of Everything gains momentum, we are clearly headed towards a new era in Internet communications, with M2M connections predicted to increase 17-fold at a CAGR of 76% y-o-y. The way we use connectivity in devices today will change businesses, government, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, transportation and other key industries.”

Key Findings & Milestones from Global Traffic Projections and Forecasted Trends:

Rise in global mobile data center traffic

By 2021, global mobile data traffic will reach 49 exabytes per month or 587 exabytes annually

The forecast annual run rate of 587 exabytes of mobile data traffic for 2021 is equivalent to:

122 times more than all global mobile traffic generated just 10 years ago (in 2011)

131 trillion images (e.g. MMS)

High growth for live video on mobile

Mobile video will increase 8.7-fold from 2016 to 2021 and will have the highest growth rate of any mobile application category. Mobile video will represent 78 percent of all mobile traffic by 2021

Live mobile video will grow 39-fold from 2016 to 2021. Live mobile video will represent 5 percent of total mobile video traffic by 2021

Growth in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

VR immerses users in a simulated environment. AR is an overlay of technology on the real world

Applications such as VR are adding to the adoption of wearables such as headsets

VR headsets will grow from 18 million in 2016 to nearly 100 million by 2021— a five-fold growth

Globally, VR traffic will grow 11-fold from 13.3 petabytes/month in 2016, to 140 petabytes/ month in 2021

Globally, AR traffic will grow seven-fold between 2016 and 2021, from 3 petabytes/month in 2016 to 21 petabytes /month in 2021

Global connected wearable devices driving M2M growth

Cisco estimates there will be 929 million wearable devices globally, growing nearly threefold from 325 million in 2016

Globally, the number of wearable devices with embedded cellular connections will reach 69 million in number by 2021—up from 11 million in 2016.

Mobile data traffic offload to Wi-Fi networks

In 2016, 60 percent of total mobile data traffic was offloaded; by 2021, 63 percent of total mobile data traffic will be offloaded

In 2016, monthly offload traffic (10.7 EB) exceeded monthly mobile/cellular traffic (7.2 EB)

Globally, total public Wi-Fi hotspots (including homespots) will grow six-fold from 2016 (94.0 million) to 2021 (541.6 million)

Wi-Fi traffic from both mobile devices and Wi-Fi-only devices, together, will account for almost half (49 percent) of total IP traffic by 2020, up from 42 percent in 2015.

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