If it seems like you're using more mobile data now than ever before, you may rest assured you're not just an anecdote. Mobile data use has climbed in recent years, and a new look at the Cisco (News - Alert) Visual Networking Index (VNI) suggests that this pattern won't be slowing down soon, but rather will be spiraling upward in a big way.
The VNI numbers suggest that mobile data is about to climb seven-fold through 2021, and more people on the planet will be using mobile phones than they will bank accounts. In fact, the VNI projects about 100 million more smartphone users at 5.5 billion than bank account users at 5.4 billion. Smartphone users will also outnumber users of running water at 5.3 billion and landline users at 2.9 billion.
Moreover, Cisco expects mobile traffic to represent about 20 percent of all IP traffic by 2021, period, a number up from just 8 percent in 2016. That's almost three times what 2016 saw, and it only gets more eye-opening from there. There will be almost 12 billion mobile-connected devices, Cisco posits, and that includes machine-to-machine (M2M) devices of the kind the IoT is commonly made of.
Further, the average connection speed will also spike, going from an average of 6.8 Mbps to 20.4 Mbps by 2021. Cisco also expects 4G to account for 58 percent of all mobile connections—up from 26 percent in 2016—and will be almost all mobile traffic at 79 percent.
Driving these amazing figures include such points as the staggering growth of smartphones and things to do on such devices, as well as the rapidly-climbing influence of the Internet of Things (IoT), which demands huge volumes of mobile bandwidth to power all the various sensors and other devices included in the field.
It's interesting that 5G seems to count for so little in the VNI's reckoning of mobile data use, but given that the VNI's projections stop at 2021, it's safe to think that the fullest expansion won't be felt until after that. It's likely to be a letdown for many who were expecting a switch to be flipped in 2020 and the rollouts to begin in earnest, but like 4G saw, it will likely be a while before it expands fully. It might take less time, given the numbers of firms working in this direction—Google (News - Alert) even has a stake in things this time as it discovered what happened with Google Fiber—but it will still take time.
Either way, it's clear that mobile data use is on the rise in some very big ways, and we'll likely only see the expansion of such systems to the very limit of the ability to provide.
Edited by Alicia Young