The Growth of Mobile Continues at an Impressive Rate
The days of having to read the covers of magazines while waiting in line at the supermarket are long gone. Today it is all too common to see people browsing Facebook, texting friends, updating Twitter or even watching YouTube videos while waiting for their turn to checkout. It is easy to forget that for most people it has only been three or four years since that they’ve had a smart phone, and even less for many!
The growth rate of smart phones has been staggering, and the amount of data they use continues to grow at an extremely fast pace. To put it in perspective, traffic from mobile networks in 2012 was 885 petabytes. That is 12 times more traffic just on mobile networks than the entire Internet around the world used in 2000 when it was just becoming popular.
Keep in mind that this does not include the staggering amount of data that is being used from mobile devices such as Apple’s iPod that go through a Wi-Fi connection. It is estimated that up to half of all data traffic coming from mobile devices like phones, tablets and iPods is directed through a Wi-Fi connection. As the number of ‘hot spots’ grows, even more data will likely be transmitted in this way.
Experts agree, this is just the beginning and the wireless data traffic is expected to grow at about 66% per year over the next five years. By 2017 that will be 11.2 Exabyte’s per month, just from mobile networks!
The increase in traffic is coming from two main sources. First, the explosive growth in the number of smart phones being used is a major contributor. The data from this source alone has grown by 81% in 2012, and that number is expected to continue as more people move from traditional cell phones to high-tech smart phones.
Smart phones made up just 16% of all devices connected to wireless networks in 2012, but they used 44% of the traffic. By 2017 it is expected that smart phones will be up to 27% of the devices and consume an astonishing 68% of all mobile data!
The other item that is causing such an increase in mobile traffic is the growing number of things you can do through the Internet on your mobile device. Just a few years ago you couldn’t play multi-player games on your phone, connect to Facebook or watch videos. Today, however, millions of users are enjoying these tools everywhere they go. As the growth of internet connected tablet computers continues to explode, even more work is being done on mobile devices.
All these statistics just solidify what we already know; mobile traffic is still early in its life cycle and will continue to grow at an astonishing rate for the next several years at least. Companies like Cisco estimate that the expansion of 4G networks around the world will cause the growth to increase even more due to the impressive mobile upload and download rates available.
While there are many things we can predict about mobile data growth, there are other factors which we can’t. Will cellular phone companies continue to limit the amount of data per month their subscribers can use? As people living in poorer countries begin taking advantage of mobile technologies how much data will they use? There are many questions which remain unanswered at this point, but one thing is certain. Accessing the Internet from mobile devices will continue to grow and change our lives in many ways over the years to come.