The Asia-Pacific region is set to lead the world in mobile traffic generation in the next five years, more than doubling our nearest rival in North America.
That’s according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013 to 2018, which predicts worldwide mobile data traffic will increase nearly 11-fold over the next four years and reach an annual run rate of 190 exabytes by 2018.
An exabyte equal to one billion gigabytes.
Cisco vice-president of products and solutions marketing, Doug Webster, said global mobile data traffic would continue its truly remarkable growth to reach an amount in 2018 that is more than 57 times the total amount of mobile data traffic just a few years ago in 2010.
“Such growth is not only indicative of mobility becoming a critical characteristic of almost every network experience and the value consumers and businesses alike place on it, but it also represents the immense opportunities ahead for service providers who sit at the centre of the Internet-of-Everything.”
Cisco predicts the Asia-Pacific region will produce 6.72 exabytes a month by 2018, compared 2.95 exabytes in North America.
Western Europe comes in third with 1.9 exabytes, while Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America round out the list with 1.9, 1.64, 1.49 and 1.16 exabytes respectively.
The projected increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile internetconnections, such as personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, which will exceed 10 billion by 2018 and be 1.4 times greater than the world’s population.
The report found the incremental amount of traffic being added to the mobile internet between 2017 and 2018 is 5.1 exabytes per month, which is more than three times the estimated size of the entire mobile Internet in 2013 (1.5 exabytes per month).
In the next five years, Cisco anticipates that global mobile traffic growth will outpace global fixed traffic growth by a factor of three.
The growth will be driven by more mobile users, more mobile connections, faster mobile speeds and more mobile video.
Globally, 54 per cent of mobile connections will be “smart” connections by 2018, up from 21 per cent in 2013.
Smart devices and connections have advanced computing/multi-media capabilities and a minimum of 3G connectivity.
It also found, mobile cloud traffic will grow 12-fold from 2013 to 2018, a 64 per cent compound annual growth rate.
A new “wearable devices” sub-segment has been added to the M2M connections category to help project the growth trajectory of the Internet of Everything (IoE).
Wearable devices include things that are worn by people such as smart watches, smart glasses, health and fitness trackers, wearable scanners with capability to connect and communicate to the network either directly via embedded cellular connectivity or through another device such as a smartphone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
According to the report, in 2013 M2M connections represented nearly five percent of mobile-connected devices in use and generated more than one percent of total mobile data traffic.
By 2018, M2M connections will represent nearly 20 percent of mobile-connected devices in use and generate almost six percent of total mobile data traffic.
There will also be a marked increase in wearables.
In 2013, there were 21.7 million global wearable devices.
By 2018, there will be 176.9 million global wearable devices or a 52 percent compound annual growth rate.
The average mobile connection speed is also expected to nearly double from 2013 to 2018, a key factor in supporting mobile data traffic growth.
The report found many global service providers were deploying 4G technologies to address consumer and business users’ strong demand for wireless services and content.
According to Cisco, in many emerging markets, service providers are creating new mobile infrastructures with 4G solutions.
In some mature markets, service providers are supplementing or replacing legacy 2G or 3G solutions with 4G technologies.
Cisco predicts, by 2018, 4G connections will support 15 per cent of all connections, up from 2.9 per cent in 2013.
4G traffic will grow 18-fold from 2013 to 2018, a 78 per cent CAGR.
While mobile video traffic will increase 14-fold from 2013 to 2018 and will have the highest growth rate of any mobile application category.