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Mobile data traffic will increase more than ten-fold by 2018

Cisco has just released its annual Visual Networking Index (VNI), complete with a prediction that mobile data traffic will increase by a factor of 11, or very close to it, by the time we reach 2018.

So how much traffic is that, exactly? By 2018, Cisco estimates that 18 exabytes (18 billion gigabytes) will be chewed through every month on mobile devices. That’s not too surprising given the robust growth of mobile, and the fact that Cisco also guesses at the number of mobile Internet connections rising to 10 billion in five years – a number which will be 1.4 times greater than the population of the planet (going by UN population growth figures).

Note that mobile connections aren’t the same thing as mobile users – the actual number of mobile device users will be 4.9 billion in 2018, up from 4.1 billion last year. In 2018, machine-to-machine (M2M) connections – mobile devices, including wearables, communicating with each other to support the likes of GPS – will make up almost 20 per cent of mobile-connected devices, and 6 per cent of all mobile traffic.

We can, of course, expect faster mobile broadband surfing speeds as well, with the global average of 1.4Mbps seen last year increasing to 2.5Mbps in five years’ time.

As for the UK alone, mobile traffic is expected to leap eight-fold by 2018, reaching some 445 petabytes per month (up from 56 petabytes last year). Last year, Cisco notes that in the UK mobile data traffic grew 3.7 times faster than fixed IP traffic.

The average mobile surfing speed in the UK will creep just over 3Mbps by 2018, according to Cisco’s crystal ball.