More smartphone users than people with running water in 2021 – Cisco

Cisco has released its annual report predicting the growth of global mobile data traffic will increase seven-fold over the next five years.

The Mobile Visual Networking Index forecast set out some interesting, surprising and occasionally damning predictions for the next couple of years. For example, by 2021 more members of the global population will be using smart phones (5.5 billion) than have bank accounts (5.4 billion) and running water (5.3 billion).

The growth itself will be fuelled mobile users, smartphones, IoT connections as well as rise in mobile video and the speed of the networks themselves. For some, it may not be a case of needing a faster network, but because it’s there, the consumer will want and demand it. Whether this is a positive reflection of the digital consumer, I’ll leave up to you to decide.

“With the proliferation of IoT, live mobile video, augmented and virtual reality applications, and more innovative experiences for consumer and business users alike, 5G technology will have significant relevance not just for mobility but rather for networking as a whole,” said Doug Webster, VP of Service Provider Marketing.

“As a result, broader and more extensive architectural transformations involving programmability and automation will also be needed to support the capabilities 5G enables, and to address not just today’s demands but also the extensive possibilities on the horizon.”

From a mobile data centre traffic perspective, Cisco predicts figures will reach 49 exabytes per month or 587 exabytes annually, by 2021. Just to put that in perspective, this is 122 times more than all global mobile traffic generated just 10 years ago in 2011, and also equates to 131 MMS trillion images.

Part of this demand will be fuelled by the hunger for live video on mobile, as data becomes more affordable and streaming more efficient. Mobile video will increase 8.7-fold from 2016 to 2021, representing 78% of all mobile traffic by 2021. This seems impressive, however live mobile traffic will increase 39-fold in the same period, but will only account for 5% of the total.

Video maybe one of the trends we are living through currently, but one with great promise is that of virtual reality. Many sceptics argue the limitations of such devices due to the price of entry, though the Cisco team are seemingly quite confident. From a sales perspective, the team is predicting 5-fold growth from 18 million devices in 2016, to more than 100 million devices in 2021.

Should the experience meet the immersive expectations of the industry and consumers, the demand on the network with be significant. Cisco predicts VR traffic will grow 11-fold from 13.3 petabytes/month in 2016, to 140 petabytes/ month in 2021.

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