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Cisco: Mobile Data Traffic To Increase 13-Fold in 5 Years

By Craig Galbraith
February 07, 2013 - News

It's a staggering number.

Cisco said this week there will be 13 times more mobile data traffic around the globe in 2017 than there was just last year. It's just one prediction in the equipment giant's annual Visual Networking Index.

Online data traffic will equal 11.2 exabytes per month — that's 1 billion gigabytes. The reason for the predicted increase is simple: strong growth in the number of mobile Internet connections – personal devices and machine-to-machine applications – which will exceed the world's population (U.N. estimate: 7.6 billion) by 2017.

Multiply 11.2 by 12 and you get 134 exabytes per year. For a little more perspective on that massive number, how's this?: Mobile traffic will be 134 times all IP traffic that was generated in 2000; 134 exabytes is equivalent to sending 30 trillion images (10 images every day for every person on Earth for one year) or 3 trillion video clips (one clip daily for each person on Earth for one year).

The projected increase in traffic represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) or 66 percent. Can we buy stock in this?!

Cisco says mobile traffic will outgrow fixed data traffic by a factor of three to one between 2012 and 2017. Other trends reported in the Index include:

  • The number of mobile users will increase from 4.3 billion in 2012 to 5.2 billion in 2017.
  • Four years from now, there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices/connections, including more than 1.7 billion M2M connections (up from 7 billion total mobile devices and M2M connections in 2012).
  • The average global mobile network speed will increase seven-fold from 2012 to 2017 (3.9 Mbps)
  • By 2017, mobile video will represent 66 percent of global mobile data traffic (up from 51 percent in 2012)

"With such dramatic adoption, we are rapidly approaching the time when nearly every network experience will be a mobile one and, more often than not, a visual one as well," said Doug Webster, vice president of service provider networking marketing, Cisco. "This trend is a result of the seemingly insatiable demand by consumers and businesses alike to achieve the benefits gained when connecting people, data, and things in an Internet of Everything."

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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