Cisco released its annual Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) on Feb. 19, providing a forecast for where mobile data traffic is headed during the 2017-2022 time period.
By 2022, Cisco is forecasting that mobile traffic will reach 930 exabytes annually, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all global IP traffic that year. Cisco had previously forecast in December 2018 that it expected global Internet traffic to reach 4.8 zettabytes by 2022. Mobile data traffic has grown substantially in recent years -- total mobile data traffic in 2012 was only 8.2 exabytes.
There are several factors that will help to drive up demand for mobile data -- one of them is an increasing number of users. In 2017, Cisco reported that there were five billion mobile Internet users, which it expects to grow to 5.7 billion by 2022. Those users will also leverage more connections, as many as 12.3 billion in 2022, up from 8.6 billion connections in 2012.
What are all those users doing?
A lot of them are watching videos. In 2017, Cisco said that 59 percent of all mobile data traffic was video. That number is set to grow to 79 percent of all traffic by 2022.
All those connections, particularly for video, are going to be consumed at an ever-increasing rate of speed. In 2017, Cisco said the average mobile data connection speed was 8.7 Mbps. That figure is set to more than triple to 28.5 Mbps by 2022.
Some of that mobile data will be delivered over 5G networks, which did not exist in 2017. By 2022, Cisco is already forecasting that approximately 12 percent of global mobile data traffic will come from 5G connections.
"As global mobile traffic approaches the zettabyte era, we believe that 5G and Wi-Fi will coexist as necessary and complementary access technologies, offering key benefits to our enterprise and service provider customers to extend their architectures," Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager, Service Provider Business at Cisco, wrote in a statement.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.