Cisco predicts a seven times increase in mobile data traffic in the next five years. According to Cisco’s annual report, by 2021 there could be more people using mobile phones globally than bank accounts or running water.
Cisco attributes the immense growth due to strong growth in mobile users, smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT) connections as well as network speed improvements and mobile video consumption. Asia Pacific alone consumes the most in data traffic globally with data traffic being 37.3 exabytes per year in 2016, and is looking at a growth of up to 274.2 exabytes of data traffic per year by 2021.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 to 2021) runs for its 11th year and details many mobile data traffic projections and forecasted trends. Globally, Cisco’s projection for 2021 sees nearly 12 billion mobile connected devices, with over 50% of the global devices and connections belonging to smartphones.
Of the 12 billion connected devices, 29% will be machine-to-machine (M2M). Cisco’s report states that “M2M will be the fastest growing mobile connection type as global Internet of Things (IoT) applications continue to gain traction in consumer and business environments.”
The increasing growth of 4G is due to the rapid adoption of mobile applications and mobile connectivity by end users and will see 5G soon taking over. A number of industry experts including Cisco is expecting large scale deployments of 5G infrastructures by 2020, and will generate nearly 5 times more traffic than current 4G connections. By 2021, Cisco is looking at 1.5% of total mobile traffic to be 5G, with 4G representing 58%.
“With the proliferation of IoT, live mobile video, augmented and virtual reality applications, and more innovative experiences for consumer and business users alike, 5G technology will have significant relevance not just for mobility but rather for networking as a whole,” said Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing. “As a result, broader and more extensive architectural transformations involving programmability and automation will also be needed to support the capabilities 5G enables, and to address not just today’s demands but also the extensive possibilities on the horizon.”