February 5, 2015 — Cisco has released its annual spotlight on the astounding growth of mobile data. Global mobile data traffic grew 69 percent in 2014, reaching 2.5 Exabytes per month at the end of 2014, up from 1.5 Exabytes per month at the end of 2013, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, which presents some of Cisco’s major global mobile data traffic projections and growth trends.
Putting that number in perspective, last year’s mobile data traffic was nearly 30 times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000 when 1 Exabyte of data was transmitted.
Although the Cisco report is a global snapshot, Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote that study provides positive long-term revenue visibility for the tower sector’s pipeline.
“We reiterate our OVERWEIGHT rating on the tower sector. In our view, [Cisco’s] findings offer tangible evidence about the continued strong demand for wireless data usage,” Fritzsche wrote. “We believe wireless carriers will need to continue to optimize their respective networks to handle the additional demands of mobile data usage.”
Specifically, mobile video traffic grew to 55 percent by the end of 2014. Also driving mobile data growth was the addition of 497 million mobile devices and connections during the year, up to 7.4 billion, with smartphones accounting for 88 percent of that growth. While only accounting for 26 percent of mobile devices, smart phones represent a majority (88 percent) of data traffic on a global basis.
Attempting to keep up with the mobile data growth, cellular connection speeds grew 20 percent in 2014, increasing average download speeds from 1,387 kilobits per second (kbps) in 2013 to 1,683 kbps in 2014.
Expect the good times to keep on rolling. Cisco projects that the mobile data growth will increase exponentially during the next five years, increasing tenfold to 24.3 Exabytes each month in 2019. That would be a CAGR of 57 percent from 2014 to 2019.