Voice-Over-WiFi Set For A Surge

Cisco Says VoWiFi Traffic Will Overtake Voice-Over-LTE Traffic By 2017
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In findings that bode well for cable's WiFi strategies and a new WiFi-only phone service from Cablevision Systems, Cisco Systems’ latest mobile broadband study predicts that Voice-Over-WiFi traffic will exceed Voice-over-LTE traffic by 2017.

That study, the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global  Data Traffic Forecast Update (2014-2019), sees VoWiFi traffic reaching 10.8 petabytes per year by 2017, outpacing VoLTE’s 10.7 PB per year. VoWiFi traffic appears poised to hit 30 PB per year by 2019.

Cisco, which views VoWiFI  as a potential mobile app “wildcard,” also sees VoWiFi minutes leaping ahead of VoLTE by 2018, and forecasts that VoWiFi will represent 53% of all mobile IP voice by 2019, well ahead of 41% for VoLTE.

Cisco also predicts that the number of WiFi-capable tablets and PCs, at 1.9 billion, will be nearly 3.5-times the number of cellular-capable tablets and PCs (542 million).

The study from Cisco is its first to analyze VoWiFi, a service that can be delivered to non-SIM devices such as WiFi-only tablets, said the company, which bases its findings on a mix of independent analyst forecasts and real-world mobile data usage studies.

Those findings will be of particular interest to the cable industry, which is making carrier-grade WiFi a priority as MSOs expand their deployment of hotspots and noodle new revenue-generating services that can ride atop those wireless networks. Cablevision’s new offering, set to launch later this month and branded as "Freewheel," will sell for $29.95 per month for non-Cablevision high-speed data customers and $9.95 per month for the company’s current broadband subscribers. Cablevision will initially offer Freewheel on Android-powered Motorola Moto G handsets.

The Cisco study also found that 46% of total mobile data traffic was offloaded to WiFi in 2014, predicting that the figure will rise to 54% in 2019.

Under the forecast’s broader view, Cisco said the number of mobile users is set to rise from 4.3 billion last year, to 5.2 billion in 2019, while mobile connections jump from 7.4 billion to 11.5 billion in that span.  As mobile speeds increase, the amount of mobile video will also rise – from 55% of traffic in 2014, to 72% of traffic in 2019, Cisco predicted.

Also by 2019, global mobile traffic is poised to balloon to an annual run rate of 292 exabytes per year, versus 30 extabytes in 2014. To put that in perspective, Cisco said 292 petabytes is equal to 65 trillion images, or 23 daily images per person on earth over a year, or 6 trillion video clips.

In North America, the average mobile cell user gobbled up 585 megabytes per month, a figure that will jump to 11 gigabytes by 2019, Cisco said.

Cisco also tracked wearables, a key player in the so-called Internet of Things, expecting 7% of wearables to have embedded cellular connectivity by 2019, up from 1.9% in 2014. The amount of traffic flowing through these cellular-connected wearables will likewise jump from 15 petabytes in 2014, to 277 petabytes in 2019.