Cisco Projects 18-Fold Growth Over 5 Years in Global Mobile Internet Data Traffic

It’s a bold and eye-opening prediction from the folks at Cisco in their Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016.

Within the five year period outlined, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold, reaching 10.8 exabytes per month — or an annual run rate of 130 exabytes — by 2016, Cisco says.

The expected sharp increase in mobile traffic is due, in part, to a projected surge in the number of mobile Internet-connected devices, which will exceed the number of people on earth (2016 world population estimate of 7.3 billion; source: United Nations). During 2011-2016 Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outgrow global fixed data traffic by three times.

So just how much is an annual run rate of 130 exabytes of mobile data traffic? Here’s what that’s equivalent to:

  • 33 billion DVDs.
  • 4.3 quadrillion MP3 files (music/audio).
  • 813 quadrillion short message service (SMS) text messages.

Among the leading trends to drive these significant increases are more streamed content, more mobile connections, enhanced computing of devices, faster mobile speeds, and more mobile video.

According to Cisco, mobile video will comprise 71 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2016.