Cisco points to frightening growth in mobile traffic

New data finds that nearly half of all cellular traffic will be off-loaded to fixed or WiFi networks by 2017, while LTE is expected to support nearly 10% of all mobile connections.

Cisco’sVisual Networking Index Forecast also projects a 13-fold growth in global mobile internet data traffic from 2012 – 2017, with the Middle East and Africa region expected to have the highest regional growth rate at a 77% compound annual growth rate or 17.3-fold growth.

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 of 7.6 billion by 2017.

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.

Trends driving global mobile data traffic growth:

  • By 2017, there will be 5.2 billion mobile users,up from 4.3 billion in 2012.
  • By 2017, there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices/connections, including more than 1.7 billion M2M connections (up from 7 billion in 2012).
  • Average global mobile network speeds will increase seven-fold from 2012 (0.5 Mbps) to 2017 (3.9 Mbps).
  • By 2017, mobile video will represent 66% of global mobile data traffic (up from 51% in 2012).

Cisco forecasts that smartphones, laptops, and tablets will drive 93% of global mobile data traffic by 2017.

Machine to machine 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% in 2017.

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.

Cisco says that in 2012, 33% of total mobile data traffic was offloaded (428 petabytes/month). By 2017, 46% will be offloaded, representing (9.6 exabytes/month).

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Cisco points to frightening growth in mobile traffic