Consumers have a true love of mobile devices, as evidenced by recent Cisco mobile consumer research. Significant percentages of respondents reported using everything from laptops, smartphones, and tablets to eReaders and mobile gaming devices. Americans now own an average of three mobile devices each, up from 2.6 devices in the 2012 Cisco mobile consumer study. Perhaps more significant, our findings show that the number of smartphone users has grown by 21 percent in just one year, now reaching 68 percent of the population, at the expense of basic phones. Most remarkable is that the number of tablet owners has expanded by over 90 percent in just one year, with close to four out of ten consumers possessing one of these new devices.
The insatiable demand for mobile devices and new applications that use large amounts of bandwidth is generating staggering volumes of mobile data. In parallel, the use of Wi-Fi for Internet access is exploding, as more mobile devices are Wi-Fi enabled, the number of public hotspots expands, and user acceptance grows. Most mobile operators now realize that offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi can, and must, play a significant role in helping them avoid clogged networks and unhappy customers. Many service providers are now constructing extensive networks of public Wi-Fi hotspots for use by their mobile or home broadband customers. The networks allow mobile offload and help enhance and differentiate their offerings. In addition, service providers are struggling to understand new business models for making money from Wi-Fi. However, very little is currently known about how consumers are actually using public Wi-Fi and how they view the overall experience. Nor is there much information about mobile users’ appetite for these new services, their willingness to use them, or their privacy or security concerns surrounding these data-based services.
To learn more, Cisco conducted a survey of 620 U.S. mobile users to understand their needs and behaviors, use of devices, applications and mobile access technologies, and how they have changed since our 2012 mobile consumer study.
The mobile market continues to evolve at a blindingly fast pace. It seems that new faster, sleeker, and more powerful mobile devices are launched every day, with new device categories created almost overnight. The number of available applications to run on these revolutionary new devices is staggering, numbering in the millions. Now you can do everything, from banking and controlling your home thermostat to shopping, entertainment, and printing a boarding pass, all from the palm of your hand. In addition, we now have faster ways to connect these devices to the Internet using 4G/LTE or Wi-Fi technologies.
While service providers are clearly benefiting from the rise of mobility and all the innovations in devices applications they are constantly trying to understand how consumers are using mobility and where the mobile market is heading. To continue to derive business value from mobility, service providers need to better understand mobility from the users’ perspective and translate what they discover into new sources of business value.
To learn more, Cisco conducted a survey of 620 U.S. mobile users to understand their needs and behaviors, use of devices, applications and mobile access technologies, and how they have changed since our 2012 mobile consumer survey.
By Henky Agusleo, Vertical Manager, and Neeraj Arora, Director, IBSG Service Provider – Singapore
A rapidly expanding, tech-savvy middle class is driving an explosion of connected mobile devices, with close to a billion smartphones and tablets in the world today. These users are looking for new cloud-based “Connected Life” experiences from their mobile devices, creating tremendous opportunities for service providers (SPs). The key is in mobile cloud. The Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) projects a direct worldwide mobile-cloud service opportunity of more than $60 billion by 2016, with an additional cloud pull-through market of $335 billion.
But so far, service providers have not taken the lead in offering cloud-based Connected Life services. That claim belongs to over-the-top (OTT) application developers, content providers, and device manufacturers, such as Google and Apple, who have moved quickly to take the high ground in this market.
For the fifth year, Cisco has released its updated Mobile Visual Networking Index Forecast. This year, we’ve seen dramatic changes in consumer behavior as well as continued explosive growth in mobile data.
Global mobile traffic grew 70% in 2012 and traffic is forecast to rise 13 times between 2012 and 2017, a CAGR of 66%. And in 2012, for the first time, video exceeded 50% of global mobile data.
The key take away from this year’s report, however, is the dramatic shift of mobile traffic offloaded to small cells, primarily Wi-Fi. The chart below (Figure 8 from the mobile VNI report) illustrates how mobile offload increases from 33 percent of total mobile traffic (cellular plus small cell/ Wi-Fi) in 2012, to 46 percent in 2017. This is significantly larger than we forecasted just a year ago when we estimated mobile offload would comprise 11% of total traffic in 2011, growing to 22% in 2016.
Offloading is even more pronounced in the US where it will account for 66% of total mobile traffic in 2017.
While the underlying aggregate global mobile data traffic, cellular plus Wi-Fi, has been revised slightly from last year (2012 total traffic revised to 1.3 exabytes from 1.5 exabytes/month; 2016 traffic revised to 13.8 exabytes from 13.9 exabytes), the shift from cellular to Wi-Fi is occurring faster than we had anticipated. The table below compares the 2012 and 2013 forecasts.
So what’s happening in the mobile landscape that is driving these changes?
First, the mobile VNI report highlights an acceleration of smartphone uptake, and even faster adoption relative to the use of mobile connected laptops. While mobile connected laptops, mostly using dongles, helped drive early consumption of mobile data traffic, consumers are adopting smart phones and tablets faster than earlier forecasted. The shift from mobile connected laptops to smart phones and tablets lowers data consumption as the latter use less data per application (because of smaller screens size and lower processing speeds). Forecasting to 2017, smart phones and tablets are expected to overwhelm laptops and account for about 80% of connected devices in 2017 vs. only 14% for laptops (see graph below).
The second trend is a dramatic uptake of offloading data traffic to small cells, primarily Wi-Fi. Offload is being driven by service providers (both mobile as well as fixed, such as cable) deploying and using Wi-Fi hot spots, as well as a by consumers using WiFi for bandwidth hungry applications such as high-resolution video. Operators are offloading data connections to cope with limited and increasingly congested spectrum for macro cell networks while, at the same time, consumers are using WiFi offload for better indoor performance and to avoid exceeding their mobile data plans.
Working together, these two trends are driving dramatic change in the composition of total wireless data traffic (cellular plus Wi-Fi).
The full Mobile VNI 2013 report highlights this shift as well as other key trends driving growth in mobile IP traffic.