Mobile Traffic To See 10-Fold Jump By 2019: Cisco

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 04, 2015


By 2019, there will be 5.2 billion people worldwide using mobile devices and 11.5 billion mobile connections, which will help drive a tenfold jump in global mobile data traffic, according to researchers with Cisco Systems. 

Cisco’s annual Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast also states that in 2014, 88 percent of global mobile data traffic had come from smart devices. The study highlights that mobile devices will be more powerful, and the growth in machine-to-machine (M2M) connections and increased access to 3G and 4G networks also will contribute to the rapid rise in annual mobile traffic, which will hit 292 exabytes per year by 2019 (compared with 30 exabytes in 2014).

3G, 4G to rule

From a global mobile network perspective, 3G connectivity is expected to rise to 97 percent by 2019 and is expected to surpass 2G as the top cellular technology, based on connection share, by 2017 itself. By 2019, 3G networks will support 44 per cent of global mobile devices and connections; 4G networks will support 26 per cent of connections, though will generate 68 per cent of traffic, the report added.

In India for example, telecom operators are already spending generously on expanding 3G services and 90 percent of five service areas, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, will be covered by the end of next year, according to equipment maker Ericsson, which suggests that the 3G boom is successfully underway. The report brought out by the telco shows that demand for high speed mobile internet is triggered primarily by social networking, video content and web browsing and instant messaging via popular apps like WhatsApp and WeChat.

 The Cisco study data also gave some insight into how the overall wireless ecosystem is shifting. For instance, even as 4G becomes more widely deployed, 2G is still expected to be the dominant cellular technology on a global basis until 2017, when 3G is predicted to supplant it. By 2019, Cisco said, 3G networks will carry 44percent of mobile devices and connections. While 4G will account for 26percent of connections at that point, it will generate 68percent of traffic.

The study also reveals that Wi-Fi continues to play a major role in offload. Cisco said that 46 percent of mobile data traffic was offloaded from dual-mode mobile devices – excluding laptops – that support both cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. By 2019, it said, 54percent of mobile data will be offloaded. If Wi-Fi offload wasn’t available, mobile networks would be seeing even faster growth: a compound annual growth rate of 65percent instead of 57 percent, Cisco added.

Boom in video, wearables

The average mobile user is expected to watch much more video, up from about three hours per month in 2014 to 30 hours by 2019, which Cisco predicts will drive 72 percent of mobile traffic, up from 55percent in 2014. Cisco also expects voice-over-Wi-Fi to play a significant role in the next five years, now that carrier-grade VoWi-Fi is being introduced. The company expects VoWi-Fi traffic to surpass voice over LTE traffic – also in its early days – by 2017 and estimates that by 2019, VoWi-Fi will account for 53 percent of all mobile IP voice traffic.

Expected to be more popular in North America and Asia/Pacific markets, Cisco analysts forecasted the wearables market will grow five-fold in five years from 109 million in 2014 to 578 million by 2019. But while smart watches and fitness trackers garner more attention right now, Cisco highlighted other use cases that will likely fuel the M2M vertical further, such as GPS systems, utility meters, and surveillance video systems. By 2019, mobile video alone is expected to account for 72 percent of global mobile data traffic, up from 55 percent in 2014.

Specific to India, the Ericsson report too estimated that India’s mobile broadband - generally 3G or 4G - user base is expected to grow four times by 2020 to reach 500 million subscribers.