Mobile Data Traffic Set to Explode …

February 4, 2016, 4:13 PM UTC
City online data connected
City online data connected
Illustration by DrAfter123—Getty Images

Those who think we can’t possibly use our mobile devices to ship messages and data around any more than we already do had better get a grip.

Global mobile traffic is expected to grow eightfold from 2015 to 2020, according to new Cisco (CSCO) projections. The company expects a compound annual growth rate of 53% in that period. By 2020, data emanating from mobile devices will reach 30.6 exabytes monthly. An exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes, in case that make this any more comprehensible.

And by 2020, there will be 1.5 mobile devices for every human on the planet, according to Cisco’s updated Visual Networking Index, released this week. That means 11.6 billion connected mobile devices for an estimated 7.8 billion people. That device number also includes so-called “M2M” modules, a term that refers to sensors or other Internet-connected devices that tend to talk to each other, or to some cloud aggregating their data, and not necessarily to people. These devices make up the nodes on the Internet of things.

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That’s probably one reason that Cisco earlier this week said it is dropping $1.4 billion to buy Jasper Technologies, a specialist in machine-to-machine communications. Jasper’s technology lets customers manage their vending machines or monitor other equipment in the field remotely. This Internet of things scenario represents a huge opportunity targeted by Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN) Web Services, IBM (IBM), and every other tech vendor with a pulse. (And some without one.)

Microsoft Teams With Jasper on Internet of Things

Some other fun facts from the VNI update

  • Video will make up 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2020, representing an elevenfold increase in such traffic from 2015 to 2020.
  • By 2020, connected tablets will generate eight times more traffic than they did last year
  • Typical smartphones will churn out 4.4 gigabytes of traffic monthly, up five times from the 929 megabytes per month they do now.

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But don’t fear for your connection speeds. Cisco, which of course makes its money building and deploying networking gear that moves data around, also predicts that connection speeds will more than triple by 2020 to 6.5 megabits per second compared with 2.0 megabits per second in 2015.


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