We live in an increasingly mobile world, a trend that will continue to play out in the coming years. According to Cisco's latest Global Mobile Data forecast, there will be 5.5 billion mobile users by 2021, up from 4.9 billion in 2016.
All those users will be connected at faster speeds than than they are today. In 2016, Cisco's study estimates that the average mobile data rate globally is 6.8 Mbps, which will grow to 20.4 Mbps by 2021. An increasing amount of all that mobile data will be video, with 78 percent of all mobile traffic in 2021 forecasted to be video, up from 60 percent in 2016.
Looking specifically at North America, Cisco is forecasting that the average mobile speed in 2021 will hit 25.2 Mbps, up from 13.7 in 2016. 77 percent of North American mobile traffic in 2021 is expected to be video.
All told, Cisco forecasts 587 exabytes of data will go over mobile networks in 2021, up from 87 exabytes in 2016, for a 47 compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
There is also an interesting trend that Cisco observed in how mobile data pricing impacts consumption around the world.
"Mobile data usage is very heavily constrained by carrier data caps," Arielle Sumits Founding Analyst and Architect of Cisco’s Internet Traffic Forecasting Effort, told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. "If the caps are relaxed, mobile data will grow, even if there is Wi-Fi available."
"We have seen some Wi-Fi usage decrease in the U.S when carriers have unlimited data offers," she added.
Overall Sumits said that mobile data is now growing approximately twice as fast as fixed data. That said, mobile will still only represent 20 percent of all data usage by 2020.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.