According to the Cisco report, the average mobile user is going to generate even more mobile traffic over the next few years. In 2012, the average mobile user every month spent one hour watching video and two hours on audio, had one video call and downloaded one app. By 2017, the average mobile user will watch 10 hours of video a month and spend 15 hours on audio, will be on five video calls and will download 15 apps.
In addition, the top 1 percent of mobile data users generated 52 percent of the mobile traffic in 2010, but only 16 percent two years later, thanks in part to most major carriers pushing plans that cap usage, according to Barnett.
"That shift in such a short period of time was really surprising to me," he said.
Smartphones also will continue playing a larger role in how mobile users access the Internet. In 2013, smartphones will overtake laptops in the amount of mobile Internet traffic generated, and by 2017, that smartphones will account for 67.5 percent of all mobile Internet traffic, compared with 14 percent by laptops and 11.7 percent by tablets. Also by 2017, smartphones will account for 27.4 percent of the mobile devices accessing the Internet.
"The shift continues over to smartphones as the lead generator of traffic," Arielle Sumits, chief marketing officer of service provider marketing for Cisco, told eWEEK.
The impact of tablets also will continue to be felt. By 2017, tablets will generate 16 exabytes of traffic, 1.5 times the amount of mobile Internet traffic generated by all devices in 2012, according to Cisco's study.
The wide range of mobile devices that will continue to be in use by 2017—from smartphones and tablets to laptops, non-smartphone handsets and other mobile devices—is an indication of a strong mix going forward, Barnett said.
"Clearly there's no sort of 'uber device' or single device that we'll all use," he said.
Google's Android operating system will continue to grow its advantage over Apple's iOS as the OS with the highest data use.