As usual, the Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index points to huge increases in the amount of data being trafficked through networks. And, as usual, it’s a master class in exotic numbers.
The report, which covers the 2017-2022 time frame, says that the annual run rate of mobile internet traffic will reach almost a zettabyte by the end of that period. Also by 2022, mobile will make up almost 20 percent of local IP traffic. That’s almost 113 times the amount that mobile traffic generated in 2012.
“This Mobile VNI clearly shows that the growing demand for wireless networking is not just a preference (not wanting to be tethered to a landline), but for many it’s an expectation that some form of wireless access (cellular or Wi-Fi) needs to be available and of a suitable performance quality to meet their needs,” Thomas Barnett, director of thought leadership for Cisco’s Service Provider business, told SDxCentral in an email. “Consumers and businesses rely on mobile connectivity not only for their personal devices, but also for a growing number of IoT applications that will expand and evolve as the 5G ecosystem takes shape (more apps, content, analytics, security, et al.)”
Cisco has amassed the massive amount of data that comprises the VNI for more than a decade. This is the ninth mobile edition, which relies in part on data from a number of consultancies, regulators and other organizations. The latest wired VNI was released last November.
The report says the number of mobile users will increase from 5 billion to 5.7 billion users, mobile connections from 8.6 billion to 12.3 billion, and average network speed from 8.7 Mbps to 28.5 Mbps, between 2017 and 2022. Video, which was 59 percent of traffic in 2017, will be 79 percent in 2022.
5G will also skyrocket during this time — which isn’t surprising, since the category didn’t exist at the beginning of the forecast period. Cisco predicts that there will more than 422 million 5G connections and that almost 12 percent of all global mobile traffic will be 5G by 2022. Average speeds at that point will be 170.2 Mbps compared to 4G’s 44 Mbps. The average 5G connections will generate almost three times the traffic as average 4G connections in 2022.
But it’s more than just numbers. “While these projections are impressive, the full value and transformational capabilities of 5G cannot simply be measured by its performance improvements over 4G,” Barnett wrote. “5G will also deliver enhanced power efficiency, cost optimization, massive IoT connection density, and dynamic allocation of resources based on awareness of content, user, and location. 5G will be able to concurrently support both low-end IoT applications (such as sensors and meters) as well as high-end IoT applications (such as autonomous driving cars and tactile Internet experiences).”
WiFi is growing as well. By 2022, the Index says 59 percent of mobile data traffic will be offloaded to WiFi, compared to 54 percent in 2017. In all, 2022 will see 51 percent of all IP traffic carried on WiFi, 29 percent via wire, and 20 percent on cellular. Public WiFi hotspots will grow from 124 million in 2017 to 549 million in 2022. The average WiFi connection speed will be 54.2 Mbps, which is more than double what it was in 2017.