Mobile network operators are to face significant additional pressure over the next five years, not only from smartphone and tablet usage, but from data traffic being added to the network from netbooks, laptops, game consoles and e-readers while users are roaming away from home and the office.
uniper Research estimates that 24% of all traffic generated from these devices will be pushed onto cellular networks outside of Wi-Fi or wired DSL networks by 2016, a circumstance that the research firm has called 'onloading'.
This means that the annual data traffic loaded from these devices onto the mobile network will reach over 7,500 Petabytes (PB) by 2016, which equates to a voluminous three trillion music track downloads.
The Data Offload & Onload from Juniper report found that the migration of data traffic from fixed to mobile is primarily due to the increased performance of mobile broadband services when compared to fixed broadband services in many regions of the world, and the low penetration of fixed broadband penetration in emerging markets. The majority of the data onloaded to the cellular network will be concentrated in regions where 3G and 4G network are ubiquitous.
According to report author Nitin Bhas: 'Consumers are also tethering their mobile devices with laptops and netbooks for data connectivity, using unlimited-bundled data plans providing them with the advantage of requiring no modem, new configurations or any other gadgets. With the introduction of 4G speeds, users are expected to increasingly take advantage of tethering in the future.'
The report highlights that even though 4G is a very promising opportunity from a capacity and performance standpoint, it is still constrained as a resource and comparatively expensive. Operators will still need offloading technologies such as WiFi & small cells to augment 4G networks.
Further findings include: Mobile data traffic offloaded from the operator networks will reach just over 59% in 2016; North America and Western Europe will together account for over 76% of the offloaded data.