Global mobile data traffic will increase seven-fold to reach 587 exabytes by 2021: Cisco

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CIOL Global mobile data traffic will increase seven fold to reach 587 exabytes by 2021: Cisco

With the burgeoning growth of mobile phones and usage of 4G, global mobile data traffic is expected to increase seven-fold from 2016 to 2021, according to Cisco’s Mobile Visual Networking Index forecast.


According to Cisco, by 2021 more members of the global population will be using mobile phones (5.5 billion) than bank accounts (5.4 billion), running water (5.3 billion), or landlines (2.9 billion).

CIOL Global mobile data traffic will increase seven fold to reach 587 exabytes by 2021: Cisco

Sanjay Kaul, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC said, “As India leaps towards a digital economy, 2016 alone saw a huge growth in mobile traffic – by 76 percent from last year and, by 2021 consumer mobile traffic will grow 7.4-fold at a CAGR of 49 percent y-o-y. Much of this growth will be fueled by massive consumer adoption of smartphones, IoT, smart devices and use of machine-to-machine connections with an estimated 1,380 million mobile-connected devices by 2021."


He further added, "As the Internet of Everything gains momentum, we are clearly headed towards a new era in Internet communications, with M2M connections predicted to increase 17-fold at a CAGR of 76 percent y-o-y. The way we use connectivity in devices today will change businesses, government, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, transportation and other key industries.”

Cisco is expecting the mobile data traffic to reach 587 exabytes annually by 2021 — up from 87 exabytes in 2016, and about 122 times more than all global mobile traffic generated in 2011.

India’s expected to contribute significantly to it— it’ll exhibit double-digit growth over the next two years.


The Middle East and Africa are also projected to witness substantial growth over the next five years. Cisco forecasts 12-fold growth in mobile data traffic for this region, while the Asia-Pacific region will see a seven-fold increase. Latin America, Western Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe are all forecasted to have six-fold growth, and North America will have five-fold growth.

Because of the growing adoption of mobile devices, Cisco predicts that mobile data traffic will grow to represent 20 percent of the world’s internet traffic in 2021. The firm says that there will be an estimated 12 billion mobile devices in use compared to 8 billion last year. Smartphones will make up for more than 50 percent of global device traffic and connections.

In 2021, 78 percent of all mobile traffic will be video transmissions, up from 60 percent in 2016.

Cisco has projected Mobile-based live video to represent an outsize portion of that data — live-streaming apps will use as much as 2.02 exabytes (2.2 billion gigabytes) by 2021 up from 52 petabytes (52 billion gigabytes) of data in 2016. However, it will represent only a small part of overall mobile traffic — around 5 percent.

In terms of mobile speeds, 56 percent of all mobile devices will use 4G or faster mobile data connectivity by 2021, compared to 26 percent in 2016.

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