As mobile traffic gets smarter, neglecting the network is just dumb

Cisco’s latest research report shows how machine-to-machine communication, wearable devices and the Internet of Things is changing business requirements

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Cisco smart trafic 2015-2019 Canada

I have a friend who refuses to upgrade her old-school cell phone for a smartphone with a data plan. That’s it — I can’t think of anyone else who doesn’t own a smartphone — or two or three, for that matter.

The rest of us feel completely lost if we forget our smartphone at home or, even worse, in the backseat of a cab. But mobility is only going to become more prevalent in our lives, with the adoption of more powerful mobile devices, machine-to-machine connections and faster cellular networks.

So much so, that Cisco expects 97 per cent of global mobile traffic to be “smart” by 2019. To put that in perspective, 88 per cent of mobile traffic was “smart” in 2014, according to Cisco’s Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2014 to 2019.

Back in 2012, Cisco was talking about how the number of mobile-connected tablets had increased 2.5-fold, generating 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone. At that time, the rise of the tablet was big news.

Fast-forward to present day, and we have smartphones, phablets and tablets in all shapes and sizes — not to mention smart watches and fitness bands. Sure, smartphones, tablets and laptops with tablet-like capabilities are still eating up plenty of bandwidth. But we’re on the cusp of a new era of computing, with wearable devices, M2M connections and the Internet of Everything.

Cisco projects that global mobile data traffic will reach an annual run rate of 292 exabytes by 2019, which is 292 times more than all IP traffic — fixed and mobile — generated in 2000. It’s not just related to more mobile devices, but more mobile users, faster mobile speeds and more mobile video.

Consider the impact of mobile M2M connections and wearable devices. With the emerging potential of the IoE, we can expect to see exponential growth of M2M connections and wearable devices (many of which will be channeled through smartphones), which will further fuel mobile traffic.

Indeed, Cisco found that the average wearable device generated six times more traffic per month than a basic handset in 2014, while the average M2M module generated three times more traffic per month than a basic handset.

And let’s not forget mobile cloud traffic: Cloud apps — such as Netflix and YouTube or even business SaaS applications — allow us to overcome the limitations of our mobile devices. Cisco expects mobile cloud traffic will grow nearly 11-fold from 2014 to 2019, from 2 exabytes per month to 21.8 exabytes per month.

Expect to see the deployment of 4G technologies to address the increasing demand for wireless services and content. We’re already seeing this. But by 2019, Cisco predicts 4G networks will support 26 per cent of connections and generate 68 per cent of traffic.

The mobile landscape is changing quickly, and it means new challenges and opportunities in the year ahead. If you haven’t already, it’s time to consider if your business — and the infrastructure it runs on — is ready to support new mobile services in the emerging era of the IoE.


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