The increasing use of smartphones and the delivery of video over mobile devices is expected to drive a 39-fold increase in global mobile traffic by 2014, a report by networking gear maker Cisco Systems predicts.
In releasing the forecast Tuesday, Cisco predicted that global mobile traffic will reach 3.6 exabytes per month by 2014, or an annual run rate of 40 exabytes. That equates to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108 percent. In the past year alone, mobile traffic has increased 160 percent, to 90 petabytes per month, or the equivalent of about 23 million DVDs.
"Mobile data traffic is growing faster than expected five years ago," Doug Webster, senior director of service provider marketing for Cisco, said in a statement. "The rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, netbooks, e-readers and Web-ready video cameras as well as machine-to-machine applications like eHealth monitoring and asset tracking systems is continuing to place unprecedented demand on mobile networks."
In addition to the proliferation of Internet-ready devices, Cisco says widespread consumption of video content over mobile devices is also having a dramatic impact on data traffic. Mobile video is projected by the study to represent as much as 66 percent of all mobile traffic by 2014.
Other major trends include:
Smartphones and laptop air cards are expected to drive more than 90 percent of global mobile traffic by 2014.
More than 400 million of the world's Internet users could access the network solely through a mobile connection by 2014.
Today, the average mobile broadband connection generates 1.3 gigabytes of traffic per month -- the equivalent of about 650 MP3 music files. By 2014, the average mobile broadband connection is projected to generate 7 gigabytes of traffic per month -- the equivalent of about 3,500 MP3 files.
The Middle East and Africa are expected to have the highest regional mobile data growth rate in the period studied, with a CAGR of 133 percent. Asia-Pacific is next with a CAGR of 119 percent, followed by North America at 117 percent. In terms of individual countries, India is expected to have the highest growth, with a CAGR of 222 percent, followed by China at 172 percent and South Africa at 156 percent.
"In spite of the economic downturn, the demand for mobile services has remained high, posing both challenges and opportunities for service providers worldwide," added Webster.
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