Cisco Releases Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast
February 6, 2014

Mobile Data Usage Increases In North America, Global

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Mobile data usage continues to rise globally, with data usage in North America almost doubling in 2013. That's according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, which is part of the Cisco VNI Forecast that tracks visual networking applications on global networks.

As mobile plans are moving away from unlimited data to tiered data plans, mobile users are consuming more data than before. Average monthly usage peaked over 1GB in the US and several other countries, GigaOm reports. In North America, average mobile data usage rose to 1.38 GB per month in 2013 - nearly double than the previous year. The forecast expects mobile data usage to approach 9GB per month, on average, in North America by 2018.

Globally, mobile data traffic grew 81 percent last year to reach 1.5 exabytes per month by the end of 2013. That's up from 820 petabytes per month, which was reached at the end of 2012.

Mobile data usage is growing swiftly. In 2013 mobile data traffic was nearly 18 times the size of the entire global internet in 2000. In 2000, one exabyte was used globally. Mobile has a much larger appetite now. In 2013 mobile networks carried nearly 18 exabytes of traffic. What attributed to the volume of mobile data traffic? Mobile video traffic took up a big chunk, exceeding 50 percent in 2012 and eating up 53 percent of traffic by the end of 2013.

New users account for some of the growth. Cisco's forecast estimates that 526 million mobile devices and connections were added in 2013. That growth brings the mobile device tally to 7 billion, up from 6.5 billion in 2012. Smartphones account for 77 percent of that growth with 406 million net additions in 2013.

Cisco's VNI forecasts several milestones that it believes will be reached by 2018:

• Monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 15 exabytes by 2018.

• The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world's population by 2014.

• The average mobile connection speed will surpass 2 Mbps by 2016.

• Due to increased usage on smartphones, smartphones will reach 66 percent of mobile data traffic by 2018.

• Monthly mobile tablet traffic will surpass 2.5 exabyte per month by 2018.

• Tablets will exceed 15 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2016.

• 4G traffic will be more than half of the total mobile traffic by 2018.

• There will be more traffic offloaded from cellular networks (on to Wi-Fi) than remain on cellular networks by 2018.

The forecast shows expectations that the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on Earth by the end of this year. By the end of 2018 it is expected that there will be roughly 1.4 mobile devices per capita, exceeding 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2018. That number includes machine-to-machine (M2M) modules, which are expected to exceed the world’s population by the end of the forecast period. Mobile data usage will continue to rise as mobile devices get an upgrade. By 2018, 48 percent of all global mobile devices could potentially be capable of connecting to an IPv6 mobile network. The report estimates that over 4.9 billion devices will be IPv6-capable by that time.