Global Mobile Data Traffic Growth Trends & Projections : Android Leads Apple in Data Usage

Table of Contents Hide The Mobile Network Through 2016Trend 1 : Device DiversificationTrend 2: Growth in Average Traffic per DeviceTrend 3: Mobile VideoTrend 4: Mobile Cloud AdoptionTrend 5: Android Leads…

Mobile data services are well on their way to becoming necessities for many network users. Mobile voice service is already considered a necessity by most, and mobile data, video, and TV services are fast becoming an essential part of consumers’ lives. Used extensively by consumer as well as enterprise segments, with impressive uptakes in both developed and emerging markets, mobility has proven to be transformational. Mobile subscribers are growing rapidly and bandwidth demand due to data and video is increasing. Mobile M2M connections continue to increase. The next 5 years are projected to provide unabated mobile video adoption despite uncertain macroeconomic conditions in many parts of the world. Here are some of the mobile data traffic growth trends and projections 2011-2016.

– Nonsmartphone usage increased 2.3-fold to 4.3 MB per month in 2011, compared to 1.9 MB per month in 2010. Basic handsets still make up the vast majority of devices on the network (88 percent).

– Last year’s mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000. Global mobile data traffic in 2011 (597 petabytes per month) was over eight times greater than the total global Internet traffic in 2000 (75 petabytes per month).

– Mobile video traffic exceeded 50 percent for the first time in 2011. Mobile video traffic was 52 percent of traffic by the end of 2011.

– Mobile network connection speeds grew 66 percent in 2011. Globally, the average mobile network downstream speed in 2011 was 315 kilobits per second (kbps), up from 189 kbps in 2010. The average mobile network connection speed for smartphones in 2011 was 1344 kbps, up from 968 kbps in 2010.

– The top 1 percent of mobile data subscribers generate 24 percent of mobile data traffic, down from 35 percent 1 year ago

– Average smartphone usage nearly tripled in 2011. The average amount of traffic per smartphone in 2011 was 150 MB per month, up from 55 MB per month in 2010

– Smartphones represent only 12 percent of total global handsets in use today, but they represent over 82 percent of total global handset traffic. In 2011, the typical smartphone generated 35 times more mobile data traffic (150 MB per month) than the typical basic-feature cell phone (which generated only 4.3 MB per month of mobile data traffic).

– Android is now higher than iPhone levels of data use. Toward the end of 2011, Android consumption was equal to iPhone consumption, if not higher, in the United States and Western Europe.

– There were 175 million laptops on the mobile network in 2011, and each laptop generated 22 times more traffic than the average smartphone. Mobile data traffic per laptop was 2.1 GB per month, up 46 percent from 1.5 GB per month in 2010.

The Mobile Network Through 2016

By the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2016 there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita. There will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices in 2016, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules-exceeding the world’s population at that time (7.3 billion).

Two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2016. Mobile video will increase 25-fold between 2011 and 2016, accounting for over 70 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period.

Mobile network connection speeds will increase 9-fold by 2016.

Global Mobile Data Growth Today is Similar to Global Internet Growth in the Late 1990s


Global Internet Traffic Growth (Fixed) Global Mobile Data Traffic Growth
1997 178% 2009 140%
1998 124% 2010 159%
1999 128% 2011 133%
2000 195% 2012 (estimate) 110%
2001 133% 2013 (estimate) 90%
2002 103% 2014 (estimate) 78%

[Source] : Cisco® Visual Networking Index

Trend 1 : Device Diversification


Laptops and Smartphones Lead Traffic Growth


High-End Devices Significantly Multiply Traffic


One-Quarter of Mobile Users Will Own Two or More Mobile-Connected Devices by 2016


Trend 2: Growth in Average Traffic per Device

Summary of Per Device Usage Growth, MB per Month

Device Type 2010 2011 2016
Nonsmartphone 1.9 4.3 108
E-reader 0.5 0.73 2.8
Smartphone 55 150 2,576
Portable gaming console 244 317 1,056
Tablet 405 517 4,223
Laptop and netbook 1,460 2,131 6,942
M2M module 35 71 266

Source: Cisco VNI Mobile, 2012

The following are a few of the main promoters of growth in average usage.

  • As mobile network connection speeds increase, the average bit rate of content accessed through the mobile network will increase. High-definition video will be more prevalent, and the proportion of streamed content as compared to side-loaded content is also expected to increase with average mobile network connection speed.
  • As mobile network capacity improves and the number of multiple-device users grows, operators are more likely to offer mobile broadband packages comparable in price and speed to those of fixed broadband. This is encouraging mobile broadband substitution for fixed broadband, where the usage profile is substantially higher than average.
  • Mobile devices increase an individual’s contact time with the network, and it is likely that this increased contact time will lead to an increase in overall minutes of use per user.

Trend 3: Mobile Video

Mobile Video Will Generate Over 70 Percent of Mobile Data Traffic by 2016



Trend 4: Mobile Cloud Adoption

Cloud Media Applications Multiply Smartphone Traffic





Trend 5: Android Leads Apple in Data Usage


Megabytes per Month by Operating System


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