CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

12 February 2013

Africa: Global Mobile Data Traffic to Grow 13 Fold

"By 2017, global mobile data traffic will continue showing its remarkable growth increasing 13-fold over the next five years, to reach an amount more than 46 times the total amount of mobile IP traffic that was seen in 2010", says Dr. Gilbert Saggia, Cisco East Africa, General Manager.

With such dramatic adoption, the world is rapidly approaching the time when nearly every network experience will be a mobile one and, more often than not, a visual one as well. This trend is a result of the seemingly insatiable demand by consumers and businesses in the Middle East and Africa to achieve the benefits gained when connecting people, data, and things in an Internet of Everything.

According to the Cisco® Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017, in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), there will be 849,226,090 mobile users in 2017. The expected steady increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile Internet connections (personal devices and machine-to-machine applications), which will exceed the world's population (United Nations estimates 7.6 billion) by 2017

During this forecast period, Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outpace global fixed data traffic by a factor of three. The following major trends are driving global mobile data traffic growth:

More mobile users: By 2017, there will be 5.2 billion mobile users (up from 4.3 billion in 2012).

More mobile connections: By 2017, there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices/connections, including more than 1.7 billion M2M connections (up from 7 billion total mobile devices and M2M connections in 2012).

Faster mobile speeds: Average global mobile network speeds will increase seven-fold from 2012 (0.5 Mbps) to 2017 (3.9 Mbps).

More mobile video: By 2017, mobile video will represent 66 percent of global mobile data traffic (up from 51 percent in 2012).

Impact of Mobile Devices/Connections

Smartphones, laptops, and tablets will drive 93 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2017.

M2M traffic (such as GPS systems in cars, asset tracking systems, medical applications, etc.) will represent 5 percent of 2017 global mobile data traffic.

Basic handsets will account for the remaining 2 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2017.

In 2012, 14 percent of all mobile-connected devices/connections (1 billion) were IPv6-capable.

By 2017, 41 percent of all mobile-connected devices/connections (4.2 billion) will be IPv6-capable.

Traffic Offload from Mobile Networks to Fixed Networks

To address the rise in demand for mobile Internet, and to address the lack of available new mobile spectrum and the expense and complexity of adding new macrocell sites, service providers are increasingly looking to offload traffic to fixed or Wi-Fi networks.

4G Adoption and Mobile Data Traffic Growth

Many global mobile carriers are deploying 4G technologies to address consumer and business users' demands for wireless services. In many emerging markets, carriers are creating new mobile networks with 4G solutions. In mature markets, carriers are supplementing or replacing legacy (2G/3G) networks with 4G technologies. The Cisco Mobile VNI study now projects the growth and impact of 4G.

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