Video traffic will clog networks

Worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold over the next five years and reach 10.8 exabytes (EB) per month by 2016, with mobile video accounting for over two-thirds of it, according to statistics from Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index.

This huge wave of extra mobile data is attributed chiefly to a surge in the number of mobile web-connected devices, which are predicted to reach over 10bn (including machine-to-machine modules) by 2016 – more than the number of people expected to be on earth at that time (7.3bn, according to UN estimates).

Other factors include: more streamed content, with mobile cloud traffic growing ten-fold from 2011 to 2016; increasingly powerful processing chips for mobile devices, which in turn means more advanced applications that require more data (tablets are expected to see a 62-fold increase in traffic generated over the forecast period); faster mobile speeds, with average speeds expected to increase nine-fold by 2016; and more mobile video, which will comprise 71 per cent of all mobile data traffic by 2016.

During the 2011-2016 period, Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outgrow global fixed data traffic by a factor of three. To ease loads, service providers are increasingly looking to offload traffic to fixed/wifi networks, according to the study: in 2011, 11 per cent (or 72 petabytes) per month of total mobile data traffic was offloaded. By 2016, 22 per cent (or 3.1 exabytes) will be offloaded.

The Middle East & Africa region is expected to experience the highest regional mobile data traffic growth rate with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 104 per cent, or 36-fold growth. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to have an 84 per cent CAGR, while Central and Eastern Europe will have an 83 per cent CAGR, Latin America will have a 79 per cent CAGR, North America will have a 75 per cent CAGR, and Western Europe will have a 68 per cent CAGR.

“By 2016, 60 percent of mobile users — 3 billion people worldwide — will belong to the ‘Gigabyte Club,’ each generating more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month,” said Suraj Shetty, vice president of product and solutions marketing at Cisco. “By contrast, in 2011, only one-half percent of mobile users qualified. This impressive growth in mobile traffic will be driven by more powerful devices, notably smartphones and tablets, using faster networks, such as 4G and Wi-Fi, to access more applications, particularly data-intensive video.”

In honour of the study’s findings being released on Valentine’s Day (February 14th), Cisco has released a video to illustrate its findings called ‘A Mobile Love Story In Paris’, which can be viewed here.

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