This traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 92 percent over the same period. Two major global trends are driving these significant mobile data traffic increases: a continued surge in mobile-ready devices such as tablets and smart phones, and widespread mobile video content consumption.
The Cisco study predicts that by 2015, more than 5.6 billion personal devices will be connected to mobile networks, and there will also be 1.5 billion machine-to-machine nodes -- nearly the equivalent of one mobile connection for every person in the world. Mobile video is forecast to represent 66 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2015, increasing 35-fold from 2010 to 2015, the highest growth rate of any mobile data application tracked in the Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast. Mobile traffic originating from tablet devices is expected to grow 205-fold from 2010 to 2015, the highest growth rate of any device category tracked.
Facts and Projections
The updated research projects that annual global mobile data traffic will reach 6.3 exabytes per month, or an annual run rate of 75 exabytes, by 2015. That amount is the equivalent of 19 billion DVDs or 536 quadrillion SMS text messages or 75 times the amount of global Internet Protocol traffic (fixed and mobile) generated in the year 2000.
Global mobile data traffic increased 159 percent from calendar year 2009 to calendar year 2010 to 237 petabytes per month, or the equivalent of 60 million DVDs.
Global mobile data traffic grew 4.2 times as fast as global fixed broadband data traffic in 2010.
Global mobile data traffic in 2010 was three times the size of all global Internet traffic (fixed and mobile) in the year 2000.
According to the updated forecast, the Middle East and Africa will have the highest regional mobile data traffic growth rates, with a compound annual growth rate of 129 percent (63-fold growth) over the period. Latin America anticipates a 111 percent CAGR (42-fold growth), followed by Central and Eastern Europe, with a 102 percent CAGR (34-fold growth), and Asia-Pacific, with a 101 percent CAGR (33-fold growth). Western Europe is forecast to experience a 91 percent CAGR (25-fold growth); North America, an 83 percent CAGR (20-fold growth); and Japan, a 70 percent CAGR (14-fold growth).
India has the highest national mobile data traffic growth rate, with a CAGR of 158 percent (115-fold growth) for the forecast period, followed by South Africa, with a 144 percent CAGR (87-fold growth), and Mexico, with a 131 percent CAGR (66-fold growth). Comparatively, the United Kingdom will see an 84 percent CAGR (21-fold growth), and the U.S. an 83 percent CAGR (21-fold growth), according to the updated forecast.
Global Mobile Device and Customer Milestones
The Cisco study estimates that by 2015, there will be a mobile connected device for nearly every member of the world's population (7.2 billion people per United Nations' population estimate) and more than 7.1 billion mobile connections to handsets, other devices and machine-to-machine nodes (excluding Wi-Fi connections, per Cisco Visual Networking Index methodology).
Today, the average mobile connection generates 65 megabytes of traffic per month, equivalent to about 15 MP3 music files. By 2015, the average mobile connection is anticipated to generate more than 17 times that amount, to a total of 1,118 megabytes of traffic per month, equivalent to about 260 MP3 music files.
Smart phones, laptops, and other portable devices will drive more than 87 percent of global mobile traffic by 2015.
Mobile network-connected tablets will generate more traffic in 2015 (248 petabytes per month) than the entire global mobile network in 2010 (237 petabytes per month). The same will be true of machine-to-machine (M2M) traffic, which will reach 295 petabytes per month in 2015.
Global Mobile Network Connection Speeds
The average mobile network connection speed doubled from 2009 to 2010 and is expected to increase 10-fold by 2015. Mobile network connection speeds are a key factor in supporting mobile data traffic growth.
Average Smartphone Connection Speed
Source: Results from Cisco Global Internet Speed Test (GIST) (part of the Cisco VNI Pulse program) and other independent speed test findings. The Cisco GIST application has more than 390,000 global users. These projections include cellular connection speeds only (not Wi-Fi) and are based on extrapolations from historical mobile network connection speed data.
The Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast 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 VNI projections and findings. A detailed methodology description is included in the complete report (see link below).
Suraj Shetty, vice president, worldwide service provider marketing, Cisco
"Consumers and business users continue to demonstrate a healthy demand for mobile data services. The fact that global mobile data traffic increased 2.6-fold from 2009 to 2010, nearly tripling for the third year in a row, confirms the strength of the mobile Internet. The seemingly endless bevy of new mobile devices, combined with greater mobile broadband access, more content, and applications of all types -- especially video -- are the key catalysts driving this remarkable growth."