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VNI Shift Driven by Smartphone Adoption and Offloading to Wi-Fi

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.

Fig8 - Mobile VNI 2013

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.

VNI Forecast Comparison 7

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).

Fig3 - Mobile VNI 2013

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.

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CES 2013: An Explosion of Innovative New Devices

The annual Consumer Electronics Show, held last week in Las Vegas, has been called the “Super Bowl of Technology.” This year’s event was no exception. The largest in the 45-year history of CES, it featured 3,250 exhibitors, 150,000 attendees, and more than 20,000 new products unveiled. But while it may have been impossible to nail down every trend, breakthrough, and future implication, some key themes emerged as I wandered the sea of vendors and engaged in many customer discussions.

Particularly from a service provider perspective, here are a few of the most important trends that seemed top of mind throughout the show:

  1. An Explosion of Endpoints. In recent years at CES, particular devices, such as the iPad, or new technologies, such as 3D, proved dominant. This year, however, the show was characterized by the sheer, massive breadth of innovative new devices. This vast permutation of media-rich gadgets is the result of accelerated innovation that is bringing ubiquitous, mobile access to all endpoints. Even the TV is “becoming mobile” as it gains the ability to access content wirelessly. At the same time, these devices are getting “touchy-feely,” if you will, as touchscreen technology grows equally ubiquitous.
  2. Going Ultra. One new technology, Read More »

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Reflections from the Floor at NRF 2013

panoramaAfter a long day of showing the Cisco BYOD Smart Solution and Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences solutions at the 2013 National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show, I am waiting for a colleague to meet me for a well-deserved dinner. I had many, and yes there were MANY, conversations with Retail IT professionals,  and nearly every conversation I had seemed to revolve around the same two problems:

  1. How do I allow employees and / or customers to access the network when I don’t have dedicated local IT support?
  2. How do I give up the control and make sure my security and compliance requirements are met?

We know almost all organizations are struggling with BYOD, but it’s now clear that the lack of local IT support adds a new dimension to the problem. With the increased adoption of mobility, there’s also the added complexity of security and compliance, and with all the connected consumers walking around, it’s becoming a growing concern in the retail space. Retail organizations want to take advantage of the promise that leveraging Wi-Fi access to engage with employees and customers, but fear the management and security of such services.

Fortunately, Cisco is addressing both these issues with its mobility solutions.

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Cisco NRF 2013 – Visit Cisco’s Booth #252 and Attend Cisco’s Big Ideas Sessions

The Expo for NRF 2013 -- Retail’s Big Show -- starts Monday 1/14 and runs through Tuesday 1/15 in New York City at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Watch this video to learn more about the events and activities Cisco has planned at NRF 2013.

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The Ten Most Popular Mobility Blog Posts of 2012

Takeaway: The Cisco Enterprise Wireless group helps networking and IT professionals stay informed and get the most out of Cisco’s products and solutions, while displaying thought leadership on major technological trends. For 2012, there were 10 posts that stood out from the rest.

Cisco Enterprise Wireless products and solutions continue to grow in the enterprise space, providing best-in-class wireless infrastructure for many businesses and organizations. Out of our blogs this year, including detailed case studies of how enterprises utilize Cisco products and solutions, best practices from successful deployments, overviews of thought leadership webinars, and more, ten posts stood out from the rest.

Ten Most Popular

1. Get your Wi-Fi Network Ready for Windows 8

Jeevan Patil discusses 802.11w and Windows 8 compatibility, workarounds, why you should care and how to ensure that your network is ready.

2. 802.11ac: The Fifth Generation of Wi-Fi Technology

802.11ac is coming. Let Bill Rubino walk you through the in’s and out’s of IEEE’s latest standard, aided by trusty Techwise TV Fundamentals.

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