Tech blog

Internet, the next phase 

Cisco, commonly described as the Plumber of the Internet, recently released a report on the growth of data traffic from mobile devices such as laptops, smart phones and tablets.

Key conclusion: The mobile network Internet is growing the way ‘fixed network’ Internet did 10 years ago. If you are in any industry that is likely to feel the impact of mobile internet, the list may include businesses as disparate as media, medicine, transport and retail, be prepared for the coming mobile disruption.   

This year the mobile data traffic is expected to double for the fourth year in a row. It is projected to grow to 10.8 exabytes per month by 2016, an 18-fold increase over 2011.  Forty per cent of this traffic will come from Asia-pacific, 22 per cent from West Europe and 19 per cent from North America.

The evolving mix of devices is a key factor in boosting mobile data traffic. At present laptops and netbooks generate a disproportionate amount of traffic. But by 2016 smartphones accounting for 48 per cent of traffic will lead. Laptops and netbooks traffic will dip to 24 per cent, while tablets and non-smartphones will account for 5.7 per cent of the traffic. Newer device categories such as tablets and machine-to-machine (M2M) nodes will accelerate by 2016.

Not all devices will be equal. The variance in data consumed by different devices will create a new kind of digital divide. A single smartphone can generate as much traffic as 35 basic-feature phones, while traffic from one tablet will equal 121 basic-feature phones.

The long-term prospects of different devices also will vary. Smartphone and tablet users will not only grow faster than laptops but also account for significantly higher share of traffic in future. While tablet users may proliferate rapidly, data consumption by smart phones likely to be higher.

Videos will be the killer application of the mobile Internet, which will account for 70 per cent of mobile data traffic by 2016. Rest of the traffic will come from web/data (20 per cent) and other applications such as gaming, file sharing and M2M. Surprisingly, mobile VOIP will account for just 0.3 of traffic.

The average mobile network connection speed in 2011 was 315 kbps globally. The average speed will grow at 56 per cent to exceed 2.9 Mbps in 2016. Smartphone speeds will quadruple by 2016, reaching 5.2 Mbps.

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