08 February 2017
Strong growth in mobile users, smartphones and IoT connections, together with network speed improvements and mobile video consumption, are projected to increase mobile data traffic seven-fold over the next five years, according to Cisco.
In the 11th version of its highly influential annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 to 2021), the company predicts mobile data traffic will represent 20 per cent of total IP traffic by 2021 – up from just eight per cent in 2016.
The UN estimates that the global population will reach 7.8 billion people by 2021. Of these, 5.5 billion are forecasted to be mobile phone users. Cisco says that’s more than those who use bank accounts (5.4 billion), running water (5.3 billion), or landlines (2.9 billion).
M2M (machine-to-machine) connections will represent 29 per cent (3.3 billion) of total mobile connections – an increase from five per cent (780 million) in 2016. Cisco says M2M will be the fastest growing mobile connection type as global IoT applications continue to gain traction in consumer and business environments.
While 4G will support 58 per cent of total mobile connections by 2021, the VNI forecasts that 5G will account for 1.5 per cent of total mobile data traffic by then. It says 5G will generate 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection. Cisco’s VP of service provider marketing Doug Webster says with the proliferation of IoT, live mobile video, AR and VR applications, 5G technology will have significant relevance not just for mobility but for networking as a whole.
“As a result, broader and more extensive architectural transformations involving programmability and automation will also be needed to support the capabilities 5G enables, and to address not just today’s demands but also the extensive possibilities on the horizon,” he says.
According to the VNI, mobile data traffic in the UK will grow six-fold from 2016 to 2021. It is forecast to reach 833.3PB over the next five years, up from 141.8PB per month in 2016.
Businesses in this country generated 33.4PB of mobile traffic per month in 2016 – a 52 per cent increase from the previous year. Cisco predicts that UK business mobile data traffic will grow 5.4-fold to reach 181.7PB by 2021.
It also anticipates that enterprise usage will account for 22 per cent of mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 24 per cent at the end of 2016.
M2M modules represented 20.8 per cent of device connections and 4.53 per cent of total traffic in the UK last year. Cisco expects them to account for 52 per cent of device connections and 9.7 per cent of total traffic by 2021.
It says M2M traffic will grow 13-fold and hit 81.2PB per month by the end of the forecast period. The average M2M module (excluding LPWA) will generate 1,236 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month by 2021, up from 352 megabytes per month in 2016.
In other forecasts, the VNI says data centre traffic in Western Europe will reach 221EB per month by 2020, up from 70EB Exabytes per month in 2015.
‘Traditional’ data centre traffic in the region will fall from 15 per cent in 2015 to five per cent in 2021. This will be replaced by cloud traffic which will rise from 85 to 95 per cent during the forecast period. As a result, cloud data centre traffic will increase from 60EB to 211EB per month.