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Mobile data traffic to grow 13-fold from 2012-2017: Cisco

Digital News AsiaFeb 19, 2013
  • Nearly half of all cellular traffic will be off-loaded to fixed or WiFi networks by 2017
  • Asia Pacific to generate more mobile data traffic than the rest of the world by 2017

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 five 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).
 
[1 exabyte = 1 billion gigabytes]
 
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, or
  • 30 trillion images (e.g., via MMS or Instagram) — 10 daily images from each person on earth for one year, or
  • Three trillion video clips (e.g., YouTube) — one daily video clip 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 66%, Cisco said in a statement.
 
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 (884 petabytes per month).
 
During the 2012 to 2017 forecast period, Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outgrow global fixed data traffic by three times. 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-ready devices/ connections, including more than 1.7 billion M2M (machine-to-machine) connections (up from 7 billion total mobile-ready 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% of global mobile data traffic (up from 51% in 2012).

Impact of mobile devices/ connections

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

Traffic offload from mobile to fixed
 
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 WiFi networks.
 
In 2012, 33% of total mobile data traffic was offloaded (429 petabytes/ month). By 2017, 46% of total mobile data traffic will be offloaded (9.6 exabytes/ month), Cisco said.
 
Regional growth projections
 
In terms of mobile data traffic growth rates over the forecast period, the Middle East and Africa region are projected to have the highest regional growth rate. Below is how each of the regions rank in terms of growth rate by 2017:

  • The Middle East and Africa: 77% compound annual growth rate (17.3-fold growth)
  • Asia Pacific: 76% CAGR (17-fold growth)
  • Latin America: 67% CAGR (13.2-fold growth)
  • Central and Eastern Europe: 66% CAGR (12.8-fold growth)
  • North America: 56% CAGR (9.4-fold growth)
  • Western Europe: 50% 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

“Asia Pacific, as we all know, is leading the way in transforming the way data is consumed, with an expected 76% CAGR (17-fold growth) in mobile data traffic and will be generating more mobile data traffic on multiple devices than the rest of the world by 2017,” said Yuri Wahab (pic), managing director for Cisco in Malaysia.
 
“We will be outnumbered by the number of mobile devices we own in 2017 given that we expect 2,819 million mobile users in the region by then. The Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017 announced today reinforces our view that Asia will see a monumental increase in mobile users adopting cloud applications both at work and play, driving further pressure on the network in the coming years,” he added.
 
Impact of faster speeds
 
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 (click chart to enlarge).
 

 
 
4G adoption
 
Many global mobile carriers are deploying 4G (Fourth Generation) technologies to address consumer and business users’ demand 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.

  • In 2012, 2G supported 76% of global mobile devices/ M2M connections; 3G supported 23%; and 4G supported 1%.
  • By 2017, 2G networks will support 33% of global mobile devices/ M2M connections; 3G networks will support 57%; and 4G networks will support 10%.
  • In 2012, 4G connections accounted for 14% (124 petabytes/ month) of mobile data traffic.
  • By 2017, 4G connections will account for 45% (5 exabytes/ month) of mobile data traffic.
  • In 2012, the average 4G connection generated 2 gigabytes of mobile data traffic per month, which is 18 times the 0.110 gigabytes/month for the average non-4G connection.
  • By 2017, 4G traffic will grow 40-fold, a 109% CAGR.

The Cisco Mobile VNI study relies upon independent analyst forecasts and real-world mobile data usage studies. Upon this foundation are layered Cisco’s own estimates for mobile application adoption, minutes of use, and transmission speeds.
 
Key enablers such as mobile broadband speed and device computing power are also factored into Cisco VNI projections and findings. A detailed methodology description is included in the complete report.
 
Related Stories:
 
Cloud traffic to grow sixfold by 2016: Cisco
 
The Net: 4 times as large in 4yrs
 
Working on the next-gen Internet
 

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