According to Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast, global mobile networks will support more than 12 billion mobile devices and Internet of Things (IoT) connections by 2022, with mobile traffic approaching the zettabyte milestone.
At the inception of Cisco's Mobile VNI Forecast more than a decade ago, mobile (or cellular) traffic represented less than 5% of total IP traffic crossing global networks.
According to this year's forecast update (2017 - 2022), mobile traffic is expected to approach an annual run rate of a zettabyte by the end of the forecast period. By 2022, mobile traffic is expected to represent nearly 20% of global IP traffic and to reach 930 exabytes annually. That's nearly 113 times more than all global mobile traffic generated in 2012.
In 2017, there were 5 billion mobile users worldwide, but over the next five years, that number is expected to increase to 5.5 billion users, about 71% of the global population. By 2022, there are expected to be more than 12 billion mobile-ready devices and IoT connections (up from about 9 billion mobile-ready devices and IoT connections in 2017). By 2022, mobile networks are expected to support more than 8 billion personal mobile devices and 4 billion IoT connections.
The forecast update also anticipates ongoing efforts by mobile carriers around the world to upgrade mobile network performance. The average global mobile network speeds are expected to increase more than threefold from 8.7 Mbps in 2017 to 28.5 Mbps by 2022. Average mobile speeds vary significantly by geographic locations as 5G adoption begins to ramp up in some regions.
Among Cisco's predictions:
- In 2017, Low-Power, Wide-area (LPWA) networks supported 1.5% of mobile devices/M2M connections, 2G supported 34% of global mobile devices/M2M connections; 3G supported 30% of global mobile devices/M2M connections; and 4G supported 35% of global mobile devices/M2M connections. By 2022, LPWA networks are expected to support 14% of mobile devices/M2M connections, 2G to support 8% of global mobile devices/M2M connections, 3G to support 20% of global mobile devices/M2M connections, 4G to support 54% of global mobile devices/M2M connections, and 5G to support 3% of global mobile devices/M2M connections (about 422 million 5G connections globally).
- By 2022, 5G connections are expected to represent more than 3% of total mobile connections (more than 422 million global 5G devices and M2M connections) and to account for nearly 12% of global mobile data traffic. By 2022, the average 5G connection (22 GB/month) is expected to generate about three times more traffic than the average 4G connection (8 GB/month).
- In 2017, monthly WiFi offload traffic (13 EB) exceeded monthly mobile/cellular traffic (12 EB). In 2017, 54% of total mobile data traffic was offloaded to WiFi networks; by 2022, 59% of total mobile data traffic is expected to be offloaded. 2017 total IP traffic (fixed and mobile) was 48% wired, 43% WiFi, and 9% mobile. 2022 total IP traffic (fixed and mobile) is expected to be 29% wired, 51% WiFi, and 20% mobile. Globally, total WiFi hotspots (including home spots) are expected to grow four times from 2017 (124 million) to 2022 (549 million).
"Cisco is committed to helping network operators meet the growing bandwidth needs of mobile consumers, business users and the diverse collection of IoT applications," said Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager, Service Provider Business, Cisco. "As global mobile traffic approaches the zettabyte era, we believe that 5G and WiFi will coexist as necessary and complementary access technologies, offering key benefits to our enterprise and service provider customers to extend their architectures. We look forward to ongoing discussions with customers next week at Mobile World Congress Barcelona on preparing for this growth and mapping out their network architecture transitions."