The Changing Face of Mobile Data Traffic

In February, the Cisco Visual Networking Index published a meaty report providing an update on Global Mobile Data Traffic, tracking growth and forecasting trends for the coming years. The report offers a fascinating glimpse into the future, packed with today’s insights and tomorrow’s projections on customer behavior, the role of WiFi, and mobile evolution. In short? The entire ecosystem is growing at a rapid pace. In the next 5 years, mobile data will grow by 1000% and WiFi alone will be responsible for offloading 55% of the total usage. We can’t wait to be part of the transformation. 

After combing through the report, we’ve chosen a few of the most mind-blowing insights to share. Drop a couple of these facts at your next dinner party and you’re sure to impress – or maybe even spark a few friendly bets about what 2020 will actually look like. 

2015 in Review:

  • It’s getting busy out there: Mobile data traffic grew by 74%. Traffic jumped from 2.1 exabytes per month in 2014 to 3.7 in 2015
  • WiFi is King. Mobile offload exceeded cellular traffic for the first time in 2015. 51% of total mobile data traffic was offloaded onto fixed networks like WiFi
  • More than half a billion (563 million, to be exact) mobile devices and connections were added in 2015. There were 7.3 billion in 2014 versus 7.9 billion last year. Smartphones are to thank for most of that growth
  • What do people like to do most? Watch videos, of course. Mobile video traffic accounted for 55% of total traffic in 2015
  • Just when you thought everyone was already addicted to their Smartphone… average smartphone usage grew even more, to 43% in 2015


What about that buzzword, the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Globally, 97 million wearable, machine-to-machine devices generated 15 petabytes of monthly traffic in 2015.

By the way, did you know that a petabyte is the size of 500 billion pages of standard print text? That’s a lot of traffic.


Let’s take that “74% increase in mobile data traffic” statistic and look at the growth rates around the world:

By region

  • 117% Middle East and Africa had the highest growth rate
  • 83% Asia Pacific
  • 73% Latin America
  • 71% Central and Eastern Europe
  • 55% North America (up 26% from 2014)
  • 52% Western Europe


Top players by country

  • Indonesia – 129%
  • China – 111%
  • India – 89%

Predicting 2020

Projected milestones for mobile data traffic in the next 5 years:

  • Monthly global mobile data traffic will grow by 53% to 30.6 exabytes
  • There will be 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices (1.5 per capita), exceeding the world’s projected population at that time (7.8 billion)
  • Average global mobile connection speed will triple
  • Total number of smartphones + phablets will be almost 50% of global devices and connections
  • Because of increased usage on smartphones, smartphones will account for 80% of mobile data traffic
  • Mobile tablets will generate almost 8x more traffic than in 2015
  • 4G will be 40.5% of connections and 72% of total traffic
  • 4G traffic will be more than half of the total mobile traffic by 2016
  • 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video


And with that, we are on our way to the next generation of mobile networks. Come along for the ride by joining us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter!