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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”

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

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The History and Future of Internet Traffic

Man working in home office

I remember when 1 Mbps was big bandwidth. And 45 Mbps was unbelievably, outlandishly huge bandwidth. One spring day in 1995, at the headquarters of a large technology company outside of Dallas, there was excited chatter at the proverbial water cooler about the T3 access line that was being installed. A T3 line! Nearly 45 Mbps! Every thing really is bigger in Texas! We wondered what we would do with all that bandwidth, even though there were thousands of us at the location being served. Now, in 2015, the average broadband home has a 25 Mbps connection, and 20% of broadband homes worldwide have T3 speeds or higher, serving just the members of that household. And we now talk about yesterday’s data speeds Read More »

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2015 Cisco VNI Complete Forecast Update: Key Trends Include Mobility, M2M and Multimedia Content

Today, Cisco released the 10th annual VNI Global IP Traffic and Service Adoption Forecasts for 2014 – 2019 (see media release). The primary drivers of global IP traffic growth continue to show increases that will create a greater global demand for IP network resources.

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As a result of these fundamentals, we are projecting that global IP traffic will grow three-fold from 2014 to 2019 –reaching 2.0 Zettabytes annually by 2019 (a 23% CAGR over the forecast period).

While these projections and metrics are both interesting and important in terms of developing a macro-level understanding of the current and future global IP networking landscape, a deeper analysis reveals several key trends. A closer inspection of the forecast results provides the following valuable insights:

  • How people and things are connecting to IP networks?
  • What things that were previously unconnected are becoming connected?
  • What type of content is being transported over IP networks?

Read More »

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Three Mobile Trends to Watch

Updated 2015 VNI Mobile Forecast Reveals Potential “Wildcards” for Mobile Devices, Networks and Services

This week, Cisco released its annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Forecast, 2014 – 2019. Among the traditional top-line growth projections that indicate a healthy mobile industry (e.g., more than 5.2 billion global mobile users by 2019 and 10-fold mobile traffic growth over the next five years), there were several interesting trends that could have significant implications for mobile networking in the near future.

Mobile Devices: Laptops make a comeback and phablets start to emerge

While there is an overall growth in the number of mobile devices and connections, there is also a visible shift in the device mix. This year forecast shows a slight slowdown in the growth of tablets as a new device sub-category, phablets (included in our smartphone category), were began to show global adoption. Tablet growth was also affected by the introduction of lightweight laptops, which are quite similar to tablets in form factor but have more enhanced capabilities. Today, tablets are primarily being used as content consumption devices – ideally suited for video viewing in particular. Laptops are still serving as the dominant content creation device, particularly for business users (e.g., presentation, spreadsheet, and document development). While the absolute numbers or volume for smartphones (4.6 billion by 2019), tablets (nearly 300 million by 2019) and laptops (nearly 250 million by 2019) are growing, they are all losing their percentage share of total mobile devices and connections to the fastest growing mobile connection type – M2M (3.2 billion by 2019).

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Mobile Networks: Low Power, Wide-Area (LPWA) networks may be optimal for campus-wide IoE applications

This year’s forecast includes M2M nodes connected via Low-Power, Wide-Area (LPWA) networks. These networks are Read More »

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Evaluating Fixed and Mobile Networks for Cloud Readiness

Access networks are fundamental to superior cloud experiences

As a complement to the fourth annual update of the Global Cloud Index, or GCI (see media release), we’ve once again included the Cloud Readiness Supplement. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (or NIST), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, one of the five essential characteristics of cloud computing is broadband access.

  • Broad network access: Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations). See complete NIST Cloud definition.

The Cloud Readiness Supplement provides a recommended set of access requirements to support a range of cloud services (both individually and concurrently).

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