Cisco: Video Will Soon Dominate Global Mobile Data Traffic

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Cisco Systems has released its latest forecast of mobile data usage, finding that video made up more than half of all wireless data traffic in 2011 and will soar to more than 70 percent of traffic by 2016.

The expected sharp increase in mobile traffic is due, in part, to a projected surge in the number of mobile Internet-connected devices, which will exceed the projected 2016 world population of 7.3 billion, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011-2016. During the forecast period, Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outgrow global fixed data traffic by three times.

The forecast predicts an annual run rate of 130 exabytes of mobile data traffic, equivalent to:

  • 33 billion DVDs.
  •  4.3 quadrillion MP3 files (music/audio).
  •  813 quadrillion text messages.

Mobile network connection speeds grew 66 percent in 2011, according to the report. Globally, the average mobile network downstream speed in 2011 was 315 kbps, up from 189 kbps in 2010, the report said. The average mobile network connection speed for smartphones in 2011 was 1.3 Mbps, up from 968 kbps in 2010.

In 2011, a fourth-generation connection generated 28 times more traffic on average than a non-4G connection. Although 4G connections represent only 0.2 percent of mobile connections today, they already account for 6 percent of mobile data traffic, according to the report.

Cisco also found that laptops and tablets are producing far more traffic than smartphones. Laptops generate 22 times more traffic than the average smartphone. Connected tablets tripled in 2011 to 34 million, and each device generated 3.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone.

Mobile-connected tablets will generate almost as much traffic in 2016 as the entire global mobile network in 2012, Cisco added.

The Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast relies in part on data published by a variety of market research organizations, including Nielsen, comScore and the International Telecommunication Union.

By Scott Sleek