Data explosion to be driven by mobile devices: Cisco

Network vendor finds consumption of data is continually beating its prior forecasts due to smartphone boom

The explosion of data consumption both on traditional end points and mobile devices means that the networking industry and infrastructure is in for a bumpy ride, according to latest research by networking vendor, Cisco.

The report, titled Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast 2012, is based on research of the ICT ecosystem worldwide and is used by Cisco to predict global traffic growth, with particular focus on consumer and business mobile data traffic and associated key drivers.

With the networking vendor predicting in the report that global IP traffic will reach an annual run rate of 966 exabytes (EB) per year by 2015, Cisco global technology policy vice-president, Dr. Robert Pepper, sees this as the moment when the world enters the “Zetabyte era”.

“While global IP traffic will increase four-fold from 2010 to 2015, we expect to see 20 million total Internet users in Australia in 2015, up from 14 million in 2010,” he said.

While there were 47 million networked devices in Australia in 2010, Cisco sees this growing to over 84 million in 2015.

Continued growth of networked devices means that the average Internet user will generate 19.5 gigabytes (GB) of Internet traffic per month in 2015, an increase of 562 per cent from the typical 3GB per month in 2010.

“In 2015, the average Internet household in Australia is expected to generate 44.2 GB of traffic per month, which is a growth of 588 per cent from the 6.4 GB per month we saw in 2010,” Pepper said.

The biggest contributor of this data growth is due to the growing popularity of Internet video from sites such as Youtube, especially by long-form video.

“While Internet video comprised half the Inter traffic in Australia in 2010, we see it growing to becoming 81 per cent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2015,” Pepper said.

Consumers’ taste for smartphones and tablets means that mobile data traffic has experienced a spike that is not slowing dow. As such, global mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 18 times in the next five years.

“In Australia, mobile traffic drivers is due to more mobile connections, faster mobile speeds, more mobile users, and more mobile video,” Pepper said.

“Despite economic uncertainty in 2011, Australia mobile data traffic actually doubled.”

Based on what Cisco saw last year, Australian mobile data traffic growth for consumers has been pegged at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 74 per cent. The figure for businesses is 59 per cent.

In addition to contributing to data growth on regular end points, video will account for 66 per cent of mobile data traffic in 2016.

The growing adoption of the Cloud means that while the technology only account for 36 per cent of mobile data traffic in Australia in 2011, Cisco expects it to grow to 66 per cent in 2016.

While Pepper admits that laptops dominate today when it comes to data consumption, smartphones are expected to catch up in the next five year, with tablets driving 90 per cent of traffic.

“In Australia, 59 per cent of mobile users, or 11.8 million people, will belong to the Gigabyte Club by 2016, which means they will be generating more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month,” he said.

“This is in contrast to last year, when only 0.9 per cent of mobile users belonged to the Gigabyte Club.”

While mobile traffic offload has been kept at five per cent in Australia in 2011, the reliance on offload is expected to double to 12 per cent in 2016.

Despite being in its early days, the 2.4 GB per month average data generate by early adopters of 4G in 2011 is already 28 times more than a non-4G connection at 86 MB per month.

While current network infrastructure, both 3G and 4G, is able to keep up with consumer demand, Pepper foresees a more spectrum for macro and small cells, as well as a switch from copper to fibre.

If the rumour about the upcoming iPad 3 comes with a ultra high resolution screen and 4G support, Pepper expects that it will spark a demand for higher resolution video that in turn will generate even more data consumption.

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