Data traffic on mobile networks worldwide is set to explode over the next 10 years, increasing by a factor of 33, according to data and forecasts published at the UMTS Forum in London.
Driven by the rapid growth of connected devices and the move towards mobile video, the total data load is expected to reach 127 billion gigabytes of data per annum, excluding Wifi driven traffic.
This will lead to a huge increase in data load on operator’s networks over the next decade. And it won’t end there, as the figures forecast and additional growth of 174% from 2020 through 2025.
This growth will be partially driven by a massive increase in the number of connected devices with the UMTS Forum predicting that their will be over a billion of these devices by 2016. At present most mobile traffic comes from broadband dongles and PC’s connected to mobile networks, but IDATE, the provider of these growth forecasts, predicts that by 2020 Smartphone’s will have over taken dongles as the main source of data traffic.
Additionally, the growth comes from the increasing use of mobile video. In fact, about half of the increase comes from video content.
“Video traffic is the first contributor to mobile data traffic,” said Frédéric Pujol, head of radio technologies and spectrum practice at IDATE. “If video did not exist, the traffic growth figure would be significantly lower, he said: “an order of magnitude of 50% or 60% less.”
The study also predicts that in 2020 Asia will represent the largest region in terms of share of mobile traffic with almost 45 billion gigabyts with Europe and the Americas following.
As mentioned above these figures exclude traffic driven through Wifi devices, which remains an important part of the mobile data world so marketers still need to take this into consideration.
“It is difficult to predict what will happen with WiFi,” Pujol admitted. In the more advanced markets WiFi will represent “30%-40% of the total mobile traffic,” he suggested.
While this growth clearly pose’s a major challenge for operators, it also represents a major opportunity for marketers.
The increasing penetration of ever more powerful smartphones, the increasing data bandwidth available, and the increasing prevalence of mobile video should provide brands an ever increasing level of engagment with their customers.