What do the Super Bowl and Kate and William’s royal wedding have in common? Both involve Big Ben, absolutely absurd “proposition” bets (How long will it take Christina Aguilera to sing the National Anthem? What color hat will the Queen be wearing?), and each will attract enormous worldwide audiences.
One other thing: it’s a sure thing that more of us will watch these events on tablets, laptops, smart phones and other mobile devices than ever before.
Today’s release of Cisco’s 2011 Visual Network Index Global Mobile Data Forecast confirms this: we have an insatiable appetite for mobile devices and the applications that those devices deliver.
Here’s what the data reveal: despite the global economic woes in many regions, growth in demand for mobile data has held steady or increased. Nothing is stopping that growth. Not offloading mobile traffic to fixed networks via Wi-Fi or Femto cells. Not tiered pricing plans offered by mobile carriers. Growth projections may adjust year to year, but the direction is clearly up, up, and away.
- By 2015, there will be more than 5.6 billion handheld or personal devices and more than 1.5 billion machine to machine devices.
- During that same period, global mobile traffic will outgrow fixed data traffic by 3.3 times to 75 exabytes annually (compare: 19 billion DVDs – that’s a lot of movies!)
- Mobile video, in all kinds of applications, will make up 2/3 of mobile data traffic in five years.
All over the globe, we want computing power in our hands and on our laps, and once we have it, we want more of it and we use more of it – all driving more packets over mobile networks, which themselves will become faster over the next five years.
The phenomenon is truly global. From countries like India (Compound Annual Growth Rate CAGRof 158% for the forecast period) and Mexico (CAGR of 131%), to the Middle East and Africa (regionally, a CAGR of 129%).
No corner of the globe is exempt so long as there’s some way to get those batteries charged. By 2015, Cisco projects the world will be consuming 6.3 exabytes/month of mobile data. In the US, we tapped, clicked, talked, and watched about 16.4m gigabits/month of mobile data in 2009. In 2015, that number grows to 914.6 million gigabits/month – a CAGR of 83%.
Governments and regulators around the world would be well served to heed the example of US policymakers, who are actively on the hunt for new spectrum to meet the rising demand for mobile data. The US FCC and the Obama Administration want to identify, and repurpose, 500 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband use by 2020, and deliver the first 300 MHz of that total by 2015. Congress is already at work to provide needed tools, such as voluntary incentive auctions, to help deliver radio spectrum that is the lifeblood of mobile networks.
It’s a safe bet we’re going to need more radio spectrum to keep up with demand. At least for those of us who care about football highlights and Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.