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The Mobile Data Tsunami

Cisco just released the 2012 edition of its mobile VNI* report, entitled Cisco VNI Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, 2011-2016.”

The report’s conclusion: a tsunami of mobile data traffic is headed our way, growing in size and speed through 2016 and likely beyond.  Over the next five years, mobile data traffic worldwide will grow 18-fold!

What’s triggering this tsunami of mobile traffic?

  • There are more users, each using more bandwidth. By 2016, there will be 5.1 billion mobile users, up from 4.1 billion in 2011. Also by 2016, the majority of global mobile users (60%, 3 billion people) will belong to the “Gigabyte Club” -- generating more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month, typically by viewing data-intensive video content.
  • Those users have more mobile devices. By 2016, there will be 10 billion mobile devices and connections…equal to one-and-a-half device for each person on Earth.
  • Those devices are more powerful. By 2016, smartphones will represent 82% of all handsets, up from just 12% in 2011.  Mobile traffic originating from tablets will grow 62-fold from 2011 to 2016 – the highest growth rate of any device category tracked in the Mobile VNI forecast.  Just 3 years ago, tablets didn’t even exist as a category!
  • The networks serving those devices are getting faster. By 2016, 36% of mobile data traffic will be on a 4G network.

For a quick and fun look at the highlights – the report came out on Valentine’s Day, after all – check out this animation, “A Mobile Love Story in Paris: How Multiple Devices will Drive Data Traffic in 2016.”

The implications are noteworthy, whether you’re a service provider, an enterprise manager, or a user who can’t imagine life without your smartphone or tablet.

For service providers, CNET’s Don Reisinger captures the impact:  “Some of the world’s top carriers are struggling to keep up with mobile data demands… if Cisco’s forecast is to be believed, carriers will be forced to spend boatloads of cash in the coming years on improving infrastructure to handle the sheer amount of data that will cross their lines.”

For enterprise managers, your employees will expect the most powerful mobile devices running on the fastest networks so they can access seemingly limitless amounts of video content.

Thanks to the Mobile VNI forecast, forewarned is forearmed:  this tsunami is coming.

*The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) researches and reports worldwide IP data traffic and usage trends to provide objective forecasting and analysis to our customers, industry, media, and governments.  A highly-regarded information source cited frequently in business and industry press, VNI data has been used by tier 1 Cisco customers to develop network capacity plans and by regulatory agencies globally to shape broadband policies.

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