Cisco Predicts Exponential Increase in Mobile Data Traffic by 2020

by Matt Klassen on February 4, 2016

ciscoGlobal mobile data traffic will experience an exponential increase over the next four years, a report from Cisco claims, and by 2020 more people will have access to mobile phones (with some measure of online access) than to electricity, cars or even running water.

According to the report, by 2020 there will be approximately 5.5 billion mobile users in the world, totalling about 70 percent of the total population. The ongoing proliferation of smartphones will represent 72 percent of total mobile usage by that time, double the 36 percent it was in 2015.

What’s truly interesting is that while the world continues to adopt mobile technology, by 2020 the majority of the globe will still only have access to Wi-Fi, yet at the same time 4G connections will account for almost 3/4s of the mobile data traffic, meaning that the developed world will continue to be data gluttons while basic mobile connectivity only starts to dawn on the unconnected billions.

Here are a few highlights of the Cisco report:

– The annual amount of global mobile data traffic will hit a mind-blowing 366.8 exabytes in 2020, up from the 44.2 exabytes last year.

– Approximately 75 percent of all data traffic will be video by 2020.

– 98 percent of mobile data traffic will come from smart devices.

– There will be 600 million wearable devices in use around the world, up from 97 million currently.

– By 2020, there will be 432 million global Wi-Fi hotspots (including home), up from 64 million in 2015.

– In 2018, voice over Wi-Fi will top voice over IP in number of minutes.

All that to say, while 2020 will see the continued growth of 4G technology (and likely the introduction of 5G), the explosion in mobile data consumption will be spurred on by the improvement and subsequent expansion of Wi-Fi technology, as the reach of wireless connectivity spreads across the globe.

This improvement in Wi-Fi technology will lead to a huge spike in voice over Wi-Fi services as well, as VoWi-Fi is expected to exceed VoLTE this year, and surpass VoIP by 2018, leading Cisco to conclude that by 2020 it will account for more than half (53%) of all mobile IP voice traffic.

So what will the world look like in 2020? It’s no surprise that given the fact mobile connections are growing faster than traditional wired connections that the future will indeed increasingly be wireless, and that the vast majority of the world will connect to the Internet wirelessly, although data consumption in the developed world will still dwarf that of the erstwhile unconnected billions.

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