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Major Mobile Milestones – The Last 15 Years, and the Next Five

Cowritten with Usha Andra, Senior Analyst, Visual Networking Index, Service Provider Marketing

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the VNI Mobile Forecast. For a decade, we have analyzed, reviewed, and made projections about mobile networking and how consumers and business users’ behaviors and expectations have changed based on device innovations, network enhancements, and a seemingly never-ending variety of mobile applications and content options. Our work and focus on forecasting the growth of global mobile network traffic and wireless service trends has given us an opportunity to cover one of the fastest growing (in terms of user adoption) and constantly interesting global industries ever developed. Over the past 10 years, mobile data traffic has increased 6,000-fold, and over the past 15 years, it has increased an incredible 600-million-fold. The average smartphone owner today is carrying a computing device more powerful than 10 PCs from 2000. And mobile devices have evolved from devices for calling and texting to devices for calling, texting, tweeting, posting, watching, gaming, banking, navigating, shopping, and reading.

Here’s a very brief summary of some of the major mobile milestones that many of us have experienced over the last 15 years, in five-year increments. What did we miss or would you add to these timelines? We’ve also provided a quick snapshot of our projections for the next five years. Let us know what you think…

Pre-2000: The wireless wilderness shows early signs of development

In 1973, the first mobile phone call was placed with the words “guess where I’m calling from?”, the motto of the early days of cellular voice. Mobile phones became commercially available in 1979, but the early phones were expensive and heavy, with large nickel cadmium batteries weighing them down. In the 1990s, lithium ion batteries were introduced, reducing the weight and size of the phones by more than half, and the phones began to be offered at more affordable prices. Also in the early 1990s, 2G phones deploying GSM technology were introduced, marking the shift from analog to digital communications. With GSM, limited data services such as text messaging and paging began to be available. The GPRS standard was introduced in the late 1990s, delivering packet-switched data capabilities to existing GSM networks and allowing users to send graphics-rich data as packets.

2000 – 2005: “Call me”


Mobile voice was still the dominant voice application in this era, but Read More »

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Register for the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Webcast

On February 3, 2015, we will release the ninth annual Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast and Methodology Update, covering projected growth and usage trends over the next five years. Annual Cisco VNI GLobal Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update This is your opportunity to learn about Cisco’s projections for global mobile data traffic increases, primary influences on mobile traffic, and major transitions in wireless technology. The Cisco VNI mobile forecast is part of the company’s comprehensive and ongoing initiative to analyze mobile IP growth and innovations worldwide. Join Doug Webster, vice president, Service Provider Marketing, and Dr. Robert Pepper, vice president of Global Technology Policy, as they present Read More »

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HDX Blog Series #4: Optimized Roaming

Editor’s Note: This is the last of a four-part deep dive series into High Density Experience (HDX), Cisco’s latest solution suite designed for high density environments and next-generation wireless technologies. For more on Cisco HDX, visit  Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here. Read part 3 here.

If you’ve been a long time user of Wi-Fi, at some point you have either observed someone encounter (or have personally suffered from) so called “sticky client syndrome”. In this circumstance, a client device tenaciously, doggedly, persistently, and stubbornly stays connected to an AP that it connected to earlier even though the client has physically moved closer to another AP.

Surprisingly, the reason for this is not entirely…errr…ummm…unreasonable. After all, if you are at home, you don’t want to be accidentally connecting to your neighbor’s AP just because the Wi-Fi device you’re using happens to be closer to your neighbor’s AP than to your own.

However, this behavior is completely unacceptable in an enterprise or public Wi-Fi environment where multiple APs are used in support of a wireless LAN and where portability, nomadicity, or mobility is the norm. In this case, the client should typically be regularly attempting to seek the best possible Wi-Fi connection.

Some may argue that regularly scanning for a better Wi-Fi connection unnecessarily consumes battery life for the client device and will interrupt ongoing connectivity. Therefore the “cure is worse than the disease”. But this is true only if the client is very aggressively scanning and actually creates the complete opposite of being “sticky”.

The fundamental issue with “stickiness” is that many client devices simply wait too long to initiate scanning and therefore seeking a better connection. These devices simply insist on maintaining an existing Wi-Fi connection even though that connection may be virtually unusable for anything but the most basic functionality. Read More »

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Wired or Wireless: Will the Distinction Matter?

Howard Baldwin - Photograph

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

How symbiotic is the relationship between wired and wireless technologies? Simple answer: very. Increasingly, the perceived gap between traditional cellular (3G, 4G), Wi-Fi, and wired technologies is narrowing.

There’s no question that the gap between wireless technologies is narrowing. Tiago Rodrigues, project director for the Wireless Business Alliance (WBA), sees venues such as sports stadiums, shopping malls, and even universities combining cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.

Read More »

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What Does “Enterprise Class” Mean, Anyway? A Case Study with 3G/4G

[WARNING: This blog post contains specifics on actual product features. Stop reading now if you prefer PowerPoint to Excel.]

“Enterprise class.” Sounds awesome. But does it have any meaning to your business?

It turns out that it does, but we need to dig into a real product example to make it clear. One shining example from Cisco is our leadership in Enterprise class (there’s that phrase again!) 3G/4G. Let’s use this example to highlight how our engineers create “Enterprise class” products by focusing on: Read More »

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