Optical/IP Networks

Cisco: Video to Drive Mobile Data Explosion

The volume of data traffic on mobile networks is set to go through the roof during the next five years, with video services the main driver of that growth, according to forecasts released by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) today.

Presenting the latest findings from its Visual Networking Index forecast, which estimates the impact of "visual" applications on networks, Cisco said it expects mobile data traffic volumes to increase 66-fold between 2008 and 2013, by which time 2 exabytes of data -– that's 2 million terabytes -- will be running over mobile networks each month.

According to the forecast, monthly traffic volumes will reach about 500,000 terabytes in 2011, double by 2012, and then double again by the following year. According to the IP equipment vendor, "mobile data traffic will grow from 1 petabyte per month to 1 exabyte per month in half the time it took fixed data traffic to do so."

Uncontroversially, Cisco reckons that video will be the main contributor to this growth. "Almost 64 percent of the world’s mobile traffic will be video by 2013," predicts the vendor. Video consumption will be highest in Western Europe, where it will account for 73 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2013.

One of the key drivers of the overall data traffic growth will be the proliferation of wireless broadband-enabled laptops and "mobile broadband handsets with higher than 3G speeds. A single high-end phone like the iPhone/Blackberry generates more data traffic than 30 basic-feature cell phones," notes Cisco, while "a laptop aircard generates more data traffic than 450 basic-feature cell phones."

From a geographical perspective, Latin America will "have the strongest growth of any region at 166 percent CAGR [compound annual growth rate]," followed by Asia/Pacific at 146 percent, estimates Cisco. Overall, Asia/Pacific is forecast to account for about 33 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2013.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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