Mobile data traffic to soar by 2018


M2M and mobile devices to generate equivalent of 14 billion hours of 4K streaming by 2018

Annual mobile data traffic, generated by smartphones, tablets, connected cars, and other machine to machine (M2M) modules, will reach 129,000 Petabytes (PB) by 2018, equivalent to approximately 14 billion hours of 4K video streaming.

The new study from Juniper Research found that as 4K content becomes both more widely available and adopted by consumers, the average data usage will increase leading to almost threefold rise in cellular traffic to exceed 318,000PB by 2021. This will put pressure on network providers who will see greater usage; indeed Sprint in the US recently collaborated with Ericsson to trial 4K content delivery over 5G networks.

Data traffic generated by smartphone, tablets and feature phones will grow fourfold between 2017 and 2021 to reach 774,000PB, equivalent to 81 billion hours of 4K streaming.

Global average smartphone mobile data usage will reach 5GB per month by 2021, up from 2GB in 2017, while the global average tablet mobile data usage will exceed 3.3GB per month by 2021, up from 1.5GB in 2017.

Video is to account for 60% of global mobile data traffic in 2017, before approaching 80% by 2021, the study showed.

Meanwhile, traffic generated by mobile-connected M2M systems will approach 6,000PB by 2021, dominated by the automotive sector. Cellular-connected fixed devices including notebooks and e-readers will onload 20% of total traffic to mobile networks in 2017.

The use of Wi-Fi by operators for data offload has boosted the build-out of Wi-Fi hotspots in recent years. Juniper predicts that this will lead to over 60% of global mobile data traffic being offloaded via Wi-Fi networks in 2017.

However, the research warned that a high quality of experience while offloading data users will be essential for future network monetisation strategies.

Report author Nitin Bhas added: “Operators need to support a user experience comparable to that of cellular. Whilst progress has been made in, for example, refining handoffs between cellular and Wi-Fi, there is still room for improvement by implementing better network management and planning tools”.


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