Cisco Forecasts Dramatic Mobile Video Traffic Growth

Despite a bleak economic climate, Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index predicts global mobile traffic will increase 66 times over the next five years with mobile video accounting for nearly 64 percent of traffic by 2013. The primary driver of this surge in mobile traffic will be driven by laptops, netbooks and smartphones connecting to the network.

Almost 64 percent of the world's mobile traffic will be video within the next five years, according to Cisco's latest VNI (Visual Networking Index) Mobile Forecast for 2008-2013 released Feb. 10. The key driver of the mobile traffic will be laptops, netbooks and smartphones connecting to the network.

Overall, Cisco predicts global mobile traffic will increase 66-fold with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 131 percent over that same five-year period. The growth rate primarily reflects the anticipated migration of users to a 4G mobile Internet that will allow consumers to view more mobile video and access a variety of mobile broadband services.

"The projected increase in mobile rich media points to the inevitable transition to 4G. This will shift the industry's focus toward all-IP networks," Suraj Shetty, vice president of service provider marketing at Cisco said during a Cisco webcast. "The evolving 4G mobile Internet transformation is further diversifying how people access and experience the Internet and is causing an undeniable surge in bandwidth growth."

Cisco points out, for example, a single laptop can generate as much traffic as 450 basic-feature cell phones, and a smartphone such as an iPhone or BlackBerry device creates as much traffic as 30 basic-feature phones. Cisco projects mobile broadband handsets with higher than 3G speeds and laptop aircards will drive more than 80 percent of global mobile traffic by 2013.

Other applications such as peer-to-peer are also making an impact on the mobile network, already accounting for 20 percent of all mobile data traffic globally."More personalized services and applications are becoming available on a wide range of devices. The key to success will be delivering video-rich, any-play services to users, enabling them to move freely throughout the world while maintaining connectivity to others," said Kelly Ahuja, Cisco's senior vice president for the service provider routing technology group. "As a result, service providers will have to take into account the need not only for more bandwidth when planning their network architecture but for greater network intelligence as well."Despite a bleak economic climate, Doug Webster, a senior director for service provider marketing at Cisco, said the trend to a ubiquitous mobile Internet is undeniable."There were a half billion new subscribers to mobile networks last year alone," Webster said. "Half of the world's population is already on a mobile network. I really don't think [the current economy] will have any great impact."According to Cisco's new study, the most compelling current applications for 3G include mobile TV, a light version of video conferencing, simple games and multimedia, MMS, SMS, e-mail and Internet browsing. Cisco said the long-term future of faster mobile networks will popularize "premium experiences" with applications such as telemedicine, mobile virtual presence, machine-to-machine applications such as telematics, enriched navigation experience, interactive gaming, remote sensing applications, mobile education systems, mobile emergency management systems, and far richer advertising opportunities for mobile advertising and entertainment. "The implication of ubiquitous high-speed mobile data for traffic is difficult to overestimate," Cisco states in the executive summary of the latest VNI. "The mobile data traffic footprint of a single mobile subscriber in 2015 could very conceivably be 450 times what it was 10 years earlier in 2005."Globally, the Cisco study projects Western Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions will will account for more than 60 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2013.