By 2018, there will be Over 40 million Mobile Users in South Africa and 95 Percent of These will be Internet Mobile Users at just over 38 Million


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – According to the Cisco® Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013 to 2018, mobile data traffic in South Africa will have a compound annual growth of 53 percent in the next five years and will reach an annual run rate of two Exabytes by 2018. The projected increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile Internet connections, such as personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, which will reach 98 billion by 2018, approximately 1.8 per capita for the country.

Key Mobile Data Traffic Drivers

From 2013 to 2018, Cisco anticipates that mobile traffic growth will be double fixed traffic growth in South Africa. The following trends are driving mobile data traffic growth:

  • More mobile users: In South Africa, there will be 40 million mobile users by 2018, up from 38 million in 2013. Globally, there will be 4.9 billion mobile users, up from 4.1 billion in 2013.
  • More mobile connections: There will be 98 million mobile-connected devices by 2018, approximately 1.8 per capita for South Africa. The global number will be more than 10 billion mobile-ready devices/connections by 2018.
  • More mobile video: Video will be 78 percent of South Africa's mobile data traffic by 2018, compared to 50 percent at the end of 2013. Globally, video will represent 69 percent of mobile data traffic in 2018, up from 53 percent in 2013.

Key South African projections

  • 60 percent of mobile connections in South Africa will be 'smart' connections by 2018, up from 20 percent in 2013.
  • In 2013, Machine-to-machine (M2M) modules represented more than eight percent of device connections and close to one percent of total traffic. In 2018, M2M modules will represent more than seventeen percent of device connections and two percent of total traffic in South Africa. M2M refers to applications that enable wireless and wired systems to communicate with similar devices to support global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation systems, asset tracking, utility meters, security and surveillance video.
  • The average mobile connection speed will grow 2-fold (17 percent CAGR) from 2013 to 2018, reaching 1,543 kbps by 2018, from 704 kbps in 2013.
  • 4G will account for 39 percent of total mobile data traffic by 2018, compared to 9 percent at the end of 2013.
  • By 2018, 4G connections will support 13.8 percent of all connections, up from 1.1 percent in 2013.
  • By 2018, 33 percent of mobile traffic will be offloaded onto Wi-Fi/small cell networks, up from 20 percent in 2013. “Offload” refers to traffic from dual mode devices and supports cell and Wi-Fi connectivity, excluding laptops) over Wi-Fi and small cell networks. Offloading occurs at the user or device level when one switches from a cell connection to Wi-Fi and small cell access.

Key Regional Growth Projections

In terms of mobile data traffic growth rates over the forecast period, the Middle East and Africa region is projected to have the highest regional growth rate. Below is how each of the regions ranks in terms of growth rate by 2018:

  1. The Middle East and Africa will have a 70 percent CAGR and 14-fold growth;
  2. Central and Eastern Europe will have a 68 percent CAGR and 13-fold growth;
  3. Asia-Pacific will have a 67 percent CAGR and 13-fold growth;
  4. Latin America will have a 66 percent CAGR and 13-fold growth;
  5. North America will have a 50 percent CAGR and eight-fold growth; and
  6. Western Europe will have a 50 percent CAGR and seven-fold growth.

In terms of mobile data traffic generation, the Asia-Pacific region is projected to generate the most mobile data traffic. Below is how each of the regions ranks in terms of anticipated mobile data traffic generation by 2018:

  1. Asia-Pacific: 6.72 exabytes per month;
  2. North America: 2.95 exabytes per month;
  3. Western Europe: 1.9 exabytes per month;
  4. Central and Eastern Europe: 1.64 exabytes per month;
  5. The Middle East and Africa: 1.49 exabytes per month; and
  6. Latin America: 1.16 exabytes per month.

Supporting Quote

Craig Zeeman, Director: Transformation & Service Provider, Cisco South Africa

“South African mobile data traffic will continue its truly remarkable growth, increasing nearly eight-fold over the next five years and growing twice as fast as fixed IP traffic in South Africa. 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 center of the Internet of Everything.

Mobile operators, globally as well as in South Africa, are seeking new ways to accommodate this surge in mobile data traffic, smart portable devices and things coming onto their networks. As mobile devices proliferate, so do the opportunities to strengthen relationships with customers by delivering a superior subscriber experience. Cisco is working with the leading service providers to build flexible, scalable, and secure networks based on the Cisco next-generation Internet architecture to help operators to not only manage the rapid growth in mobile data but also deliver a better service to their customers.”

Editor’s Notes
Cisco Mobile VNI Forecast Methodology

The Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2013-2018) 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 mobile VNI projections and findings. A detailed methodology description is included in the complete report: Cisco Visual Networking Index home page

Cisco also welcomes press, analysts, bloggers, service providers, regulators and other interested parties to use and reference our research with proper attribution, such as “Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2013-2018.”

Cisco defines the following terms:

  • Cellular Traffic: comes from a cellular or radio network connection—2G, 3G and 4G.
  • Wi-Fi Offload Traffic: refers to traffic from dual mode devices (supports cell and Wi-Fi connectivity; excluding laptops) over Wi-Fi/small cell networks. Offloading occurs at the user/device level when one switches from a cellular connection to Wi-Fi/small cell access.
  • Fixed/Wi-Fi Traffic: comes from a wireless connection enabled by some fixed network source, such as a residential Wi-Fi router or public hotspot.
  • An exabyte: is a unit of information or computer storage equal to one quintillion bytes or one billion gigabytes.

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