Global IP traffic to increase fivefold by 2013, Cisco predicts

* Mobile video expected to account for 66% of all mobile data traffic by 2014

Our fixed mobile convergence coverage has typically focused more on bringing IP telephony to the mobile device than on the need for mobile data. Perhaps we should reconsider our perspectives. In its February 2010 Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast update, Cisco has predicted a surge in mobile data traffic, with "39-fold global growth from 2009-2014."

We last looked at Cisco's VNI results with a June 2009 update, when the study, which is based on Cisco's analysis and modeling of multiple analysts' forecasts, predicted that that global IP traffic will increase fivefold by 2013 to two-thirds of a zettabyte. (A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes.) This month's VNI update "projects that annual global mobile data traffic will reach 3.6 exabytes per month or an annual run rate of 40 exabytes by 2014 [which] equates to . . . a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108 percent," according to Cisco's statement.

According to Cisco's research, two trends are driving the growth: the "proliferation of mobile-ready devices and widespread mobile video content consumption." Cisco estimates that by 2014, more than 5 billion personal devices will be connected to mobile networks, with "billions more [using] machine-to-machine nodes." Mobile video will account for 66% of all mobile data traffic by 2014, showing the highest growth rate of any mobile data application tracked by the mobile data forecast.

Another projection we found interesting: "By 2014, more than 400 million of the world's Internet users could access the network solely through a mobile connection."

Doug Webster, senior director, service provider marketing at Cisco, said: "Mobile data traffic is growing faster than expected five years ago. The rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, netbooks, e-readers and Web-ready video cameras as well as machine-to-machine applications like eHealth monitoring and asset-tracking systems is continuing to place unprecedented demands on mobile networks. In spite of the economic downturn, the demand for mobile services has remained high, posing both challenges and opportunities for service providers worldwide."

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