Bengaluru: By 2021, more members of the global population will be using mobile phones (5.5 billion) than bank accounts (5.4 billion), running water (5.3 billion), or landlines (2.9 billion), according to the 11th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index™ (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 to 2021). Strong growth in mobile users, smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT) connections as well as network speed improvements and mobile video consumption are projected to increase mobile data traffic seven-fold over the next five years.
By 2021, Cisco projects mobile data traffic will achieve the following milestones:
• Mobile data traffic to represent 20 percent of total IP traffic—up from just 8 percent of total IP traffic in 2016
• 1.5 mobile devices per capita. Nearly 12 billion mobile-connected devices (up from 8 billion and 1.1 per capita in 2016), including M2M modules
• Mobile network connection speeds will increase three-fold from 6.8 Mbps in 2016 to 20.4 Mbps by 2021
• Machine-to-machine (M2M) connections will represent 29 percent (3.3 billion) of total mobile connections—up from 5 percent (780 million) in 2016. M2M will be the fastest growing mobile connection type as global IoT applications continue to gain traction in consumer and business environments
• 4G will support 58 percent of total mobile connections by 2021—up from 26 percent in 2016, and will account for 79 percent of total mobile data traffic
• The total number of smartphones (including phablets) will be over 50 percent of global devices and connections (6.2 billion)—up from 3.6 billion in 2016
The explosion of mobile applications and adoption of mobile connectivity by end users is fueling the growth of 4G, soon to be followed by 5G growth. Cisco and other industry experts anticipate large-scale deployments of 5G infrastructures to begin by 2020. Mobile carriers will need the innovative speed, low latency, and dynamic provisioning capabilities that 5G networks are expected to deliver not just increasing subscriber demands, but also new services trends across mobile, residential, and business markets. Cisco forecasts that 5G will account for 1.5 percent of total mobile data traffic by 2021, and will generate 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection and 10.7 times more traffic than the average 3G connection.
“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 at Cisco. “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.”
Sanjay Kaul, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC –
“As India leaps towards a digital economy, 2016 alone saw a huge growth in mobile traffic – by 76% from last year and, by 2021 consumer mobile traffic will grow 7.4-fold at a CAGR of 49% y-o-y. Much of this growth will be fueled by massive consumer adoption of smartphones, IoT, smart devices and use of machine-to-machine connections with an estimated 1,380 million mobile-connected devices by 2021. As the Internet of Everything gains momentum, we are clearly headed towards a new era in Internet communications, with M2M connections predicted to increase 17-fold at a CAGR of 76% y-o-y. The way we use connectivity in devices today will change businesses, government, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, transportation and other key industries.”
Key India Findings:
• In India, mobile data traffic grew 2.2 times faster than Indian fixed IP traffic in 2016
o In India, the average mobile-connected end-user device generated 251 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month in 2016, up 67% from 151 megabytes per month in 2015
o In India, the average smartphone generated 559 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month in 2016, up from 430 megabytes per month in 2015
o In India, the average PC generated 2,166 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month in 2016, up from 1,665 megabytes per month in 2015
o In India, the average tablet generated 2,228 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month in 2016, up from 1,671 megabytes per month in 2015
• In India, mobile data traffic will grow 7-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 49%.
o In India, mobile data traffic will grow 2 times faster than fixed IP traffic from 2016 to 2021
o In India, mobile data traffic will account for 29% of Indian fixed and mobile data traffic by 2021, up from 15% in 2016
o In India, 60% of mobile connections will be ‘smart’ connections by 2021, up from 19% in 2016
o In India, 93% of mobile data traffic will be ‘smart’ traffic by 2021, up from 62% in 2016
• In 2016, India’s consumer mobile data traffic grew 1.8-fold, or 76%
o In India, consumer mobile traffic will grow 7.4-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 49%
o Consumer will account for 90% of India’s mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 89% at the end of 2016
• In India, business mobile traffic will grow 7.1-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 48%
o Business will account for 10% of India’s mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 11% at the end of 2016
• In India, mobile video traffic will grow 11.5-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 63%.
o In India, the number of video capable devices and connections will grow 2.2-fold between 2016 and 2021, reaching 814 million in number
o Video will be 75% of India’s mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 49% at the end of 2016.
o Video reached half of India’s mobile data traffic by year-end 2017
• In India, cloud applications will account for 91% of total mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 80% at the end of 2016
o In India, mobile cloud traffic will grow 8.4-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 53%.
• In India, 59.6 million net new devices and connections were added to the mobile network in 2016.
o In India, there will be 1,380 million mobile-connected devices by 2021, approximately 1.0 per capita for this region/country
o In India, 4G connections will grow 5-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 38%
o India’s 3G connections surpass 2G connections by 2019
o In India, 2G connections will be 19.1% of total mobile connections by 2021, compared to 75.5% in 2016
o In India, the number of smart devices will grow 4.2-fold between 2016 and 2021, reaching 823 million in number
o In India, smart devices will be 59.6% of total mobile connections by 2021, compared to 18.5% in 2016
o In India, the number of smartphones will grow 2.2-fold between 2016 and 2021, reaching 781 million in number
• In India, the number of wearable devices will reach 6.8 million in number by 2021, up from 2.5 million in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 23%
o In India, the number of wearable devices with embedded cellular connections will reach 0.8 million in number by 2021, up from 0.1 million in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 45%
• In India, M2M traffic will grow 17-fold from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 76%
o In India, M2M traffic will reach 44.7 Petabytes per month by 2021
o In India, M2M will account for 2% of total mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 1% at the end of 2016
o In India, the number of mobile-connected M2M modules will grow 6.2-fold between 2016 and 2021, reaching 91 million in number
Key Findings & Milestones from Global Traffic Projections and Forecasted Trends:
1. Rise in global mobile data center traffic
• By 2021, global mobile data traffic will reach 49 exabytes per month, or 587 exabytes annually
• The forecast annual run rate of 587 exabytes of mobile data traffic for 2021 is equivalent to:
• 122 times more than all global mobile traffic generated just 10 years ago (in 2011)
• 131 trillion images (e.g. MMS)
2. High growth for live video on mobile
• Mobile video will increase 8.7-fold from 2016 to 2021 and will have the highest growth rate of any mobile application category. Mobile video will represent 78 percent of all mobile traffic by 2021
• Live mobile video will grow 39-fold from 2016 to 2021. Live mobile video will represent 5 percent of total mobile video traffic by 2021
3. Growth in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
• VR immerses users in a simulated environment. AR is an overlay of technology on the real world
• Applications such as VR are adding to the adoption of wearables such as headsets
• VR headsets will grow from 18 million in 2016 to nearly 100 million by 2021— a five-fold growth
• Globally, VR traffic will grow 11-fold from 13.3 petabytes/month in 2016, to 140 petabytes/ month in 2021
• Globally, AR traffic will grow seven-fold between 2016 and 2021, from 3 petabytes/month in 2016 to 21 petabytes /month in 2021
4. Global connected wearable devices driving M2M growth
• Cisco estimates there will be 929 million wearable devices globally, growing nearly threefold from 325 million in 2016
• Globally, the number of wearable devices with embedded cellular connections will reach 69 million in number by 2021—up from 11 million in 2016.
5. Mobile data traffic offload to Wi-Fi networks
• In 2016, 60 percent of total mobile data traffic was offloaded; by 2021, 63 percent of total mobile data traffic will be offloaded
• In 2016, monthly offload traffic (10.7 EB) exceeded monthly mobile/cellular traffic (7.2 EB)
• Globally, total public Wi-Fi hotspots (including homespots) will grow six-fold from 2016 (94.0 million) to 2021 (541.6 million)
• Wi-Fi traffic from both mobile devices and Wi-Fi-only devices, together, will account for almost half (49 percent) of total IP traffic by 2020, up from 42 percent in 2015.
6. Regional mobile data traffic growth (2016 – 2021)
1. The Middle East and Africa will have 12-fold growth
(2016: 7.3 exabytes/year; 2021: 88.4 exabytes/year)
2. Asia-Pacific will have 7-fold growth
(2016: 37.3 exabytes/year; 2021: 274.2 exabytes/year)
3. Latin America will have 6-fold growth
(2016: 5.4 exabytes/year; 2021: 34.8 exabytes/year)
4. Central and Eastern Europe will have 6-fold growth
(2016: 11.1 exabytes/year; 2021: 63.0 exabytes/year)
5. Western Europe will have 6-fold growth
(2016: 8.8 exabytes/year; 2021: 50.3 exabytes/year)
6. North America will have 5-fold growth
(2016: 16.9 exabytes/year; 2021: 76.8 exabytes/year)
Cisco Mobile VNI Forecast Methodology
The Cisco® VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 2021) relies upon independent analyst forecasts and real-world mobile data usage studies. Upon this foundation are layered Cisco’s own estimates for mobile application adoption, minutes of use and transmission speeds. Key enablers such as mobile broadband speed and device computing power are also factored into Cisco mobile VNI projections and findings. A detailed methodology description is included in the complete report (see link below).
Cisco also welcomes press, analysts, bloggers, service providers, regulators and other interested parties to use and reference our research with proper attribution, such as “Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2016 2021.”
Cisco defines the following terms:
• Cellular Traffic: comes from a cellular or radio network connection—2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.
• Wi-Fi Offload Traffic: refers to traffic from dual mode devices (supports cell and Wi-Fi connectivity, excluding laptops) over Wi-Fi/small cell networks. Offloading occurs at the user/device level when one switches from a cellular connection to Wi-Fi/small cell access.
• Fixed/Wi-Fi Traffic: comes from a wireless connection enabled by some fixed network source, such as a residential Wi-Fi router or public hotspot.
Video and Images
• Infographic: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update (2016-2020)
• Register to the Webinar to learn more: Americas/Europe or Asia
Additional Supporting Resources
• Cisco Visual Networking Index home page
• Cisco Visual Networking Index Mobile Data Traffic blog post: “Five key surprises from this year’s forecast”
• Read the complete Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2016–2021 white paper.
• Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Q&A, 2016–2021
• Launch the Mobile VNI Highlights Tool
• Use the VNI Widget
• Interact with us on our Communities page
• For more information about Cisco’s service provider news and activities visit the SP360 Blog or follow us on Twitter @CiscoVNI.
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