Cisco mobile forecast: 1.4 mobile devices per capita by 2018

Summary:M2M technology might be seeing one of the biggest five-year growth spurts, with connections expected to surpass two billion by 2018.


Cisco has published its annual update, projecting mobile data and traffic growth for the next few years. The short story is usually the same: the growth will be exponential.

In more dramatic terms, growth will be explosive.

That appears to be the case again, given that the networking giant predicts mobile data traffic will topple an annual run rate of 190 exabytes in the next four years.

Researchers translated that to mean the equivalent of 14 images shared daily, for example, through Instagram. That might not seem like a lot -- at least for a social media addict -- but when counting every single person on the planet, it's nothing to shake your head at.

Following a similar pattern set in the e-commerce world over the holiday season (not to mention the PC industry in the last year or two), tablets continue to be the biggest disrupting factor.

For instance, total global mobile data traffic is projected to increase 11 times over from 2013 to 2018. Tablet traffic is going to be a major contributor, especially as the number of tablets in circulation are expected to grow sixfold by 2018. That's after tablet traffic is predicted to surpass laptop traffic in 2016.

Here's a glance at some of the other big numbers to know:

  • 4G is on track to account for more than half of all mobile data traffic by 2018, up from 30 percent at the end of 2013.
  • M2M technology might be seeing one of the biggest five-year growth spurts, with connections expected to surpass two billion by 2018.
  • Streaming video will account for two-thirds of mobile data worldwide by 2018.
  • The number of smartphones in circulation worldwide will jump by two-thirds in four years.
  • Researchers project that there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita by 2018.

Cisco's complete Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Forecast is available online now.

Topics: Mobility, Big Data, Cisco, Data Management, Networking


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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