Mobile and online messaging traffic will reach 160 trillion a year by 2019, up from 94.2 trillion this year. That adds up to approximately 438 billion messages sent and received by users on a daily basis by 2019, according to a report by Juniper Research.
The figures incorporate SMS, MMS, instant messaging (IM), social media and email, according to the report.
Last year, email accounted for the largest share of traffic, at around 35 trillion messages per year, although almost 80 percent of this figure--28 trillion--can be categorized as spam.
However, within the next 12 months IM will overtake email, generating almost 43 trillion messages annually, the report said.
"Traffic only becomes a potential problem where content sent over the messaging client includes either audio or video," Steffen Sorrell, senior analyst, with Juniper Research, told eWEEK. "The data consumed by alphanumeric messages can be measured in kilobytes rather than megabytes so does not place network capacity under nearly the same amount of strain. Having said that, achieving improved spectral efficiency is one of the principal drivers behind both LTE and 5G technologies."
Sorrell explained this has been driven by the explosion in smart mobile devices that can transmit rich content over the Internet.
He also noted WiFi becomes ever more important to operators as the transfer to an all-IP mobile network occurs. On one hand, WiFi use can aid with offloading mobile data directly onto the fixed line network, freeing up mobile network congestion. On the other hand, it offers operators the opportunity to extend their services.
"We’ve already seen this in the case of mobile voice calls over WiFi, while the proliferation of RCS on mobile devices will, operators hope, mean that users are discouraged from using OTT messaging services," Sorrell said.
Meanwhile, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram continue to experience sharp uplifts in usage, with Facebook alone now seeing more than 5.8 billion posts, likes and comments per day.
On the revenue side, he said Juniper expects most regions to experience a slight decline in market value, principally because instant messaging is not charged per-message as is the case with SMS and MMS.
"While over-the-top (OTT) services might be stealing traffic from operators, they have a challenge ahead of them to effectively monetize those messages, as the business model is not very robust," Sorrell said. "From a traffic perspective, it’s really emerging markets who are going to be the leading stars of the forecast period."