Cisco: Smartphone traffic will grow 50-fold by 2016

Cisco has published its predictions for mobile usage through 2016, by which time global mobile data traffic is expected to have increased 18 times over.

Numerous reports have suggested that we'll see anywhere between 25 and 50 billion connected devices by 2020. But mobile data traffic numbers are going to skyrocket well before then, based on new research from Cisco.

The Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016 argues that we'll see such a surge in global mobile data traffic because the number of mobile Internet-connected devices (an estimated 10 billion) will exceed the number of people on the planet.

Cisco cited a United Nations statistic that predicts the world population will be around 7.3 billion in 2016.

Other enablers include faster network speeds, more interest in mobile video streaming, and simply better mobile technology that encourages consumers to buy and use smartphones and tablets more.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

  • Global mobile data traffic will increase by 18 times more from 2011 to 2016.
  • Smartphone traffic, in particular, will be 50 times greater in 2016 than it is now.
  • Tablets will see the highest growth rate at a 62-fold more traffic, but 4G connectivity will grow 112 times over.
  • Mobile video will make up 71 percent of mobile data traffic by 2016.
  • Smartphones, laptops, and other portable devices will drive about 90 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2016.

Specifically, worldwide mobile data traffic will should average 10.8 exabytes per month -- or an annual run rate of 130 exabytes -- by 2016.

To put that in perspective, that equates to 33 billion DVDs, 4.3 quadrillion MP3 files, or 813 quadrillion text messages.

Geographically, we should see the biggest jump in Africa with 104 percent increase in mobile data traffic. Western Europe will actually see the least with a 68 percent jump.

For an entertaining look at how multiple devices will drive traffic in 2016, check out this charming Parisian mobile love story promo video below: