The amount of data flowing over mobile networks shows no signs of slowing down and, increasingly, that traffic will be comprised of video, according to a new study from Cisco Systems.
By 2020, more than 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video (up from 55% in 2015), the company forecasted in the study – the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2015 to 2020).
Cisco also believes global mobile data traffic will reach 30.6 exabytes per month in 2020, up from 3.7 exabytes in 2015, and that annual global mobile data traffic will eclipse 366.8 exabytes in about five years, up from 44.2 exabytes last year. To put some of those numbers into perspective, Cisco said 366.8 exabytes is equal to 81 trillion images (28 daily images per person on earth for a year), or 7 trillion video clip
Cisco’s forecast also sees global mobile data traffic growing two times faster than global fixed IP traffic from 2015 to 2020. Additionally, 4G will represent more than 70% of all mobile traffic, with 4G connections generating nearly six times more traffic per month than non-4G connections by 2020, the study predicts.
Notably, all of that mobile traffic is continuing to rise as carriers such as T-Mobile (Binge On) and Verizon (FreeBee Data) start to roll out zero-rated and sponsored-data services that are exempt from monthly data-usage caps.
Among other forecasts, Cisco’s study expects there to be 5.5 billion mobile users by 2020, equal to about 70% of the world’s population.
And the continued growth of mobile phones, including smartphone-tablet hybrid often referred to as “phablets”), will ensure that more people will have mobile phones (5.4 billion) than electricity (5.3 billion), running water (3.5 billion) and cars (2.8 billion) by 2020, Cisco said.
Cisco’s study also shed more light on the expected growth of WiFi, a technology that has become a key component of cable’s wireless arsenal. The study sees global WiFi hotspots, including “home spots” in routers, growing from 64 million in 2015, to 432 million in 2020.
The study also found that, in 2015, monthly WiFi offload traffic, at 3.9 exabytes, surged past monthly mobile/cellular traffic (3.7 exabytes) for the first time. By 2020, that lead will grow – 38.1 exabytes of monthly WiFi offload traffic, compared to 30.6 exabytes for mobile/cellular.
“With the ever-increasing billions of people and things that are being connected, mobility is the predominant medium that’s enabling today’s global digitization transformation,” said Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing, Cisco, in a statement. “Future mobile innovations in cellular, such as 5G, and Wi-Fi solutions will be needed to further address new scale requirements, security concerns, and user demands. IoT advancements will continue to fuel tangible benefits for people, businesses, and societies.”