Even as the world population continues to grow at an alarming rate, humans are set to be outnumbered by mobile devices by 2016. If you think we are in the midst of an ongoing mobile revolution, the latest research by network firm Cisco suggests we ain’t seen nothing yet.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016 indicates that the amount of mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual rate of 78% for the next five years and there will be over 10 billion devices by 2016.
Aliens may not take over the world in 2012 but smartphones and tablets will surely do so within the next five years.
By 2016, smart phones will account for 48 percent of global mobile traffic, up from 18 percent now. Tablets will contribute 10 percent of the total, up from 1 percent in 2011. Mobile users will consume up to 130 exabytes of data annually by 2016 – equivalent of 33,000,000 DVDs or 813 quadrillion text messages.
While this forecast may be good news for smartphone and tablet manufacturers, there are plenty of causes for concern. Cisco’s report suggests smartphone traffic, in particular, will be 50 times greater in 2016 than it is now. The amount of mobile data traffic was about 0.6 EB (exabytes) per month last year, but the figure will reach 10.8 EB per month in 2016 – a staggering increase of 78% a year. Will global wireless networks be able to bear this added strain?
If Cisco’s projections prove to be true, it looks like the days of unfettered use of 4G network on your tablet, Netbook, USB cards, Mobile Hotspots and notebooks are over. Last year, several carriers including Sprint pulled the plug on unlimited 4G mobile broadband on a variety of its devices. Given the staggering volume projections, carriers will increasingly find it difficult to offer a sustainable pricing strategy for the ‘all you can eat’ plans.
Cisco says that by 2016, nearly three billion people (60% of mobile population) worldwide will generate more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month. Till last year, only half of 1 percent of users belonged to that elite “Gigabyte Club”.
“By contrast, in 2011, only one-half percent of mobile users qualified. This impressive growth in mobile traffic will be driven by more powerful devices, notably smartphones and tablets, using faster networks, such as 4G and Wi-Fi, to access more applications, particularly data-intensive video, ” said Suraj Shetty, Vice President of Product and Solutions Marketing, Cisco.