In only four short years, the worldwide mobile data traffic will reach 40 exabytes per year. This is according to new research from Cisco which sees the traffic jumping from 0.09 exabytes per month in 2009 to 3.6 exabytes per month by 2014. And in case you don't know what an exabyte is, it's 1 billion gigabytes. That's one quintillion bytes.
It appears that not only does the mobile web have a future, the mobile web is the future.
Global mobile data traffic has increased 160% over the course of the past year and is now at 90 petabytes per month, or the equivalent of 23 million DVDs, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Forecast for 2009-2014. By 2014, it will have reached 3.6 exabytes per month, a 39-fold increase.
The researchers said there are two major global trends driving up the data usage. One, obviously, is the increase in the number of data-ready handsets. Simply put, more handsets capable of browsing the web means more data usage. By 2014, there could be over 5 billion personal devices connecting to mobile networks and over 400 million of those devices may represent the only means of connecting to the Internet that some people will have.
However, it's important to note that in Cisco's study, they also counted laptop air cards as mobile Internet devices, so these numbers don't just speak to the proliferation of smartphones themselves, they speak to how we will increasingly be using cellular data networks to access the Web in the future.
The other major trend driving up the data traffic numbers is the consumption of mobile video content. By 2014, mobile video will account for 66% of all mobile data traffic worldwide. This represents a 66-fold increase from 2009, the highest of any mobile data application. This expected increase has been noticed by other studies, too. In September 2009, for example, U.K.-based research firm Coda reported that we'll be using 1.8 exabytes of video per month by 2017.
Another way to get a handle on the increase is to look at the average mobile broadband connection and how much data traffic it uses. Right now, the average connection uses 1.3 gigabytes per month - the equivalent of 650 MP3 music files. By 2014, the average connection will use 7 gigabytes of traffic per month or the equivalent of 3500 MP3's.
The Middle East and Africa will have the highest compounded annual growth rate (CAGR), with a rate of 133%. Following that region is Asia-Pacific (119% CAGR), and North America (117% CAGR). India will be the country with the highest CAGR - they'll be at 222%. China will follow with a 172% CAGR and South Africa will have a 156% CAGR.
These are just some of the highlights from Cisco's research. If you're interested in learning more, you can read through the entire report here.
Image credit: Toshiba netbook via Slashgear