Global mobile data traffic will increase seven fold over the next few years to hit a stunning 49 exabytes by 2021, Cisco’s latest Mobile Visual Networking Index report predicts.
According to the report, that data traffic will include 13 trillion video clips from sites like YouTube and 131 trillion images via messaging or Instagram. The total will amount to 122 times more mobile traffic than was generated in 2011.
Unsurprisingly, average traffic per user is expected to increase exponentially, jumping from 1.45 GB per month to 8.4 GB per month, according to the report. Video is expected to account for 78 percent of traffic by 2021, up from 60 percent in 2016, the report indicated. The Middle East and Africa will see the fastest growth in mobile video with a compound annual growth rate of 77 percent. The area with the highest percentage of traffic consumed by video will be Western Europe, with 80 percent.
While mobile data traffic will increase significantly in the United States – at 44 percent – Cisco predicted the largest gains will come from countries like Indonesia (142 percent), China (86 percent), and India (76 percent). In North America, the number of mobile users is expected to grow at a CAGR of 1.2 percent over the forecast period from 310 million in 2016 to 329 million in 2021. But the Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific regions will see even faster growth with CAGRs of 4.1 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, to hit 948 million users and nearly 3 billion users.
Total global mobile device connections are expected to increase at a CAGR of 8 percent to 11.6 billion in 2021, Cisco forecasted.
“The explosion of mobile applications and adoption of mobile connectivity by end users is fueling the growth of 4G, soon to be followed with 5G growth,” Cisco wrote in its release. “Cisco and other industry experts anticipate large-scale deployments of 5G infrastructures to begin in the 2020 timeframe. Mobile carriers will need the innovative speed, low latency, and dynamic provisioning capabilities that 5G networks are expected to deliver to address new mobile services trends and increasing subscriber demands.”
By 2021, Cisco predicted 5G will begin taking hold, accounting for 1.5 percent of the traffic share. However, 4G is expected to dominate and steal share from 3G service, increasing its share from 69 percent in 2016 to 79 percent in 2021 while 3G will decrease its share from 24 percent to 19 percent.
And Cisco predicted those 5G connections will generate a while lot more data. By 2021, Cisco estimated a 5G connection will generate around 30 GB per month – almost five times more data than the 6.3 GB per month generated by a 4G connection.
More details from the report can be found here.