A report from ABI Research describes the growth of data traffic transferred over mobile networks-information it says most operators closely guard-and predicts that by 2014, monthly data traffic will exceed 2008's annual mobile data total.
While worldwide mobile data traffic for 2008 was more than 1.3 exabytes-or 1 billion gigabytes-in 2014, analyst Jeff Orr, the author of the report, said he expects an average of 1.6 exabytes to be sent and received monthly.
"When people think of mobile data they think of BlackBerry and iPhone handsets," Orr said in a statement Aug 4. "But the bulk of today's traffic is generated by laptops with PC Card and USB modems."
In 2008, cellular modems represented 66 percent of mobile data traffic, according to Orr, while in 2014, computers with embedded 3G and 4G modems will lead the way, representing more than 50 percent of the world's mobile data traffic.
Orr additionally expects that by 2014, nearly 74 percent of global, mobile data traffic will come from Internet access, 26 percent will come from audio and video streaming, and less than 1 percent will be attributable to peer-to-peer file sharing and VOIP (voice over IP).
And while Western Europe led mobile data traffic in 2008, accounting for close to 31 percent of use, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to take the lead by 2014, accounting for more than 28 percent of use.
"The launch of 4G services promises even more data capability-full multimedia on a greater number of devices," Orr said in the statement, explaining that while large numbers of phones came with 3G acceptance, 4G will be greeted with more data-centric devices.
"As network coverage and service plans satisfy market expectations, a variety of specialized consumer electronics devices with the ability to connect anywhere will emerge," Orr said.
More information about the report, "Mobile Data Traffic Analysis," is available at the ABI Research site.
A July 22 report from the research company described how, in the race to 4G, satellite communications operators are taking advantage of legislation that allows for dual satellite and cellular communications on spectrum that will support LTE 4G technologies.
Additionally, Clearwire, which offers WiMax, the competing 4G technology to LTE, on Aug. 3 announced that it was continuing to expand its market coverage. By Sept. 1, Clearwire will roll out coverage to Boise, Idaho, Bellingham, Wash., and eight markets in Texas, as part of a plan to cover 80 markets and 120 million people by the end of 2010.