Cisco just released its latest study on global mobile data trends.
Looking at the years 2013 through 2018, it makes a number of predictions about the types of devices and data that people will be using in four years' time.
The standout number is Cisco's prediction for the total size of mobile data traffic, which it says will reach 190 exabytes annually, increasing nearly 11-fold from 2013.
To put that in perspective, that's equivalent to four trillion video clips or 42 trillion images being sent to and from mobile devices each year.
Here are the other mind-blowing takeaways from Cisco's report:
In 2013, nearly 58% of the world’s population were mobile users. By 2018, more than 64% of the world’s population will be mobile users — despite the world's population also growing by 400 million during that time!
By 2018, mobile video will represent 69% of global mobile traffic. That's a huge jump from the 53% in 2013.
The highest growth rates are expected in the Middle East and Africa, which grew their mobile data traffic by over 100% in 2013.
4G customers really do use more data: 4G connections will be 15 percent of total mobile connections in 2018 and will account for 51 percent of mobile data traffic.
By 2018, more data will be offloaded via wi-fi from mobile networks than will remain on mobile networks themselves. People prefer the speed and reliability of local connections when they can get to them.
With that said, Cisco thinks that smartphones will have data speeds as fast as fixed broadband as soon as next year.
Mobile data growth is partially impeded by the plans offered by carriers themselves. According to Cisco, a major reason that Western Europe saw slower growth than the rest of the world in 2013 was that European carriers have migrated their users to limited "tiered" plans from the unlimited plans that used to be the norm.
No matter how you look at it, mobile growth is impressive. Between 2017 and 2018, the mobile Internet will grow by 5.1 exabytes per month — a little over three times the estimated size of the entire mobile Internet in 2013.
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