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February 06, 2014

Cisco Forecasts Number of Global Mobile Data Connections Will Surpass World Population by 2018

Global mobile data traffic is set to increase exponentially over the next few years, with the number of connections surpassing the world population by 2018, according to Cisco. The company has released its Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013 to 2018, which forecasts a nearly 11-fold increase in traffic.

According to Cisco, mobile data traffic will reach 190 exabytes by 2018, the equivalent of one billion gigabytes. The number of mobile data connections is estimated to exceed 10 billion by 2018, which is 1.4 times greater than U.N. estimates for a global population of 7.6 billion people in that year.

The giant rise in mobile traffic will be driven by sustained growth in the number of mobile Internet connections, including personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections. To make the exponential numbers more relatable, Cisco compares the forecast amount of mobile data traffic for 2018 to190 times more than the total IP traffic, including fixed and mobile, generated in 2000. It is also the equivalent of 42 trillion images or four trillion video clips, which averages out to 15 daily images per person on earth per year, and more than one daily video clip.

"Global mobile data traffic will continue its truly remarkable growth, increasing nearly 11-fold over the next five years, to reach an amount in 2018 that is more than 57 times the total amount of mobile data traffic just a few years ago in 2010,” said Doug Webster, vice president of products and solutions marketing, Cisco. “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."

Other interesting findings include massive growth in the number of mobile users, which is expected to jump from 4.1 billion in 2013 to 4.9 billion by 2018. Mobile speeds are also increasing, with average global mobile network speeds nearly doubling from 1.4 Mbps in 2013 to 2.5 Mbps by 2018. Mobile video usage will also increase, rising from 53 percent of mobile data traffic last year to 69 percent in 2018.

Cisco observes that the global shift to smarter devices will play a major role in increasing data traffic. By 2018, 54 percent of mobile connections will be “smart,” versus 21 percent in 2013. Mobile cloud traffic will also explode, rising 12-fold from 2013 to 2018 at a 64 percent CAGR. And M2M connections will increase from comprising nearly five percent of mobile-connected devices last year to nearly 20 percent by 2018. Wearable devices are also on the rise, with 21.7 million connected last year. That number will reach 176.9 million by 2018, representing a whopping 52 percent CAGR.

Adoption of 4G technologies is obviously a big factor in the growth rates, and Cisco predicts 4G connections will support 15 percent of all global mobile connections by 2018, rising from 2.9 percent last year. 4G traffic is expected to grow 18-fold from 2013 to 2018 at a giant 78 percent CAGR.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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