Read the 2013 update to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index.
It’s of course in Cisco’s interest to encourage everyone to invest heavily in network capacity, but it’s also interesting to consider what kinds of changes could drive these sorts of numbers and what changes such numbers could in turn deliver to the world.
The company said today that by 2016:
- Mobile streamed content will grow 28 fold as people grow to expect mobile on-demand streaming vs download. That seems reasonable, presuming that Netflix, Spotify and the telcos can serve up streaming multi-media content at a price that works for consumers and presuming the network can handle it.
- Mobile video will be 71% of all mobile data traffic. Video consumption may not make up the majority of the time on mobile, but of course it takes a whole lot of data.
- There will be 10B mobile connected devices, including 2B M2M (machine to machine) connected devices which will make up 5% of mobile traffic, surpassing human population. This number is actually substantially lower than some other estimates. Erriccson estimates that there will be 50B connected devices by 2020. Perhaps 10B can turn into 50B over those 4 years in between, but that doesn’t seem likely to me. These sound like different estimates, Cisco’s being lower.
- Tablets are the biggest growth in the category, up 62X. In 5 years, tablet data alone will by 4X what all mobile data is today. Tablets are pretty remarkable, that’s for sure. Adoption of the iPad alone has been striking, if a compelling Android tablet can be created – especially in places like India, then tablet-driven demand could grow even bigger. Perhaps that’s presumed in the estimate though.
- Mobile speeds to increase 9X. That’s going to make users very happy if it’s true. How much faster does mobile data need to be though?
- Offloading: Today 11% of mobile data is offloaded to wifi, in 5 years that will be 22%. Kevin Fitchard at GigaOm called this estimate shockingly conservative!
- Where will data grow the most? In the Middle East and Africa, Cisco estimates mobile data to grow 36X, whereas in North America it predicts a 17X growth and in Western Europe, 14X. A leveling out of access to data would be a logical next step in the history of the last half-century, in which access to information and education has grown increasingly even around the world.
That’s one picture of how mobile and mobile data will look in five years. Does it look realistic to you? For further reading on these numbers, see the extensive coverage around the blogosphere over at Techmeme.