Feature Article

July 25, 2012

Worldwide Mobile Data Traffic to Surpass 107 Exabytes in 2017, Says ABI Research

A new forecast from ABI Research shows that the global volume of mobile data traffic could exceed 107 Exabytes in 2017.

According to the research firm, this total traffic volume will be eight times more than what is expected for 2012. Although the numbers may sound huge, they shouldn’t be understood as yet another warning of the untamable data tsunami that mobile operators often try to portray for regulatory reasons, according to ABI senior analyst Aapo Markkanen.

The study shows that 2015 will be the last year when the traffic volume will grow by more than 50 percent annually. “And that will happen, despite the fact that the monthly average per wireless subscriber, worldwide, will increase to almost 1.5 gigabytes by the end of our forecasting period,” noted Markkanen.

In fact, the piece indicates that lot of the overall data consumption will depend on how much of on-demand video content will in the end be delivered over cellular networks, so changes implemented by individual content providers may have far-reaching effects.

Netflix, for example, recently added to its iOS app a simple function by which users can limit their viewing to Wi-Fi only and effectively avoid overage charges. Besides accidental video streams, app downloads and updates are another activity that can be easily steered onto fixed networks, according to ABI’s research.

Likewise, recently both Android and Google Play have seen improvements that make it much easier for the end users to monitor and control their data usage.

“Inadvertent data consumption has thus far been a surprisingly large source of traffic, but in the next couple of years we will see more and more of relatively quick fixes in the OS and the application levels,” said Jake Saunders, ABI’s vice president for core forecasting. “They will substantially ease this ‘needless’ burden on networks.”

ABI Research’s “Mobile Data Traffic Forecasts” product is updated quarterly. It is part of the company’s Mobile Traffic Research Service which includes additional competitive analyses, vendor matrices, market data and insights.


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Edited by Braden Becker


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