Mobile data is set to rapidly grow until 2020

In recent reporting from a Cisco industry study, mobile data usage is set to increase rapidly around the world until 2020, when the number of people using smartphone and tablet devices will outpace the amount of people which drive cars.

Mobile data networks around the world are already busy and at times congested, this is set to become increasingly worse over the coming years.

Networking industry giant Cisco predicts that by 2020 there will be a staggering 5.5 billion mobile phone users, which is roughly 70% of the world’s population, all using mobile and handheld devices.

Of this 5.5 billion users, more than 5.2 million are right here in Australia.

If we look at the explosion in popularity of 4G mobile data over the past year and the introduction of new MVNOs, data usage is only set to grow.

What does the Cisco report conclude?

The numbers from the recent Cisco case study released early in February report that officials in the networking and telecommunications industries have been tracking mobile growth for quite some time.

In fact, since reporting began in the last decade, the growth of mobile and handheld device usage has grown in an upwards trend, year on year.

“In the United States, just like the rest of the world, mobile data consumption continues to climb, driven by insatiable demand for video, video and more video, coupled with a surge in mobile users and devices, and an expansion of mobile networks to serve the Internet of Things—connected cars, homes, health care and more.” – VP, GTP, Cisco, Robert Pepper.

To put into perspective just how much mobile data is being used around the world, an easy way to imagine it is to look at this following example:

All of the global mobile data traffic used in the 12 month period during 2010, the data was an equivalent to 81 trillion images or 7 trillion video clips.

That works out roughly to 2.5 daily video clips per person, for an entire year.

By the time in 2020 comes around there will be an estimated 11.6 billion mobile devices all connected and using mobile data.

Smartphone or tablet devices?

Among the personal devices which are in use, 81 percent of all devices in 2020 would be for personal use, with only 19% counted being used solely for business use.

As 2015 ended, this number was sitting at 76 percent, with the year on year growth climbing so fast, interdependent analysts predict 81% could even be passed well before 2020 arrives.

M2M connections, (which is short for Machine 2 Machine) will globally make up 27 percent of all connected mobile devices by 2020.

It has been predicted that this number of connected smartphones will generate 7 percent of all mobile traffic.

Not wanting to be left out by the study, smart watches are too rapidly growing in both popularity and mobile data usage, as next generation versions such as the Samsung Gear S2 are 3G and Soft SIM (also known as e-SIM) ready.

The appetite for WiFi is set to continue

The high demand for WiFi will continue to grow over the next five years, according to the data just released by Cisco.

Hotspots which are commonly found in homes, offices and open to the public restaurants around Australia.

Smart business operators have learned that by providing WiFi to the continuously switched on generations, bottom line revenues can be increased.

In Australia, the network carriers to are quickly learning that if they want to stay competitive, then they need to raise the amount of mobile data, which is provided on their SIM only and prepaid plans.

It should be no surprise by now to the national carriers, that in a connected world, users are demanding more from their provider and voting with their wallet if not impressed.

With the prevalence of MVNOs entering the market and severely cutting away at the telecos market share, they are finding themselves in the painful position of having to give in to their users.

A sentiment no doubt almost unthinkable ten years ago.

What were the other findings reported?

Even the researchers at Cisco were amazed at some of the reports findings. 4G, for example, has experienced such an explosion of growth in Australia, even as it’s a relatively new technology advancement over 3G in our country.

According to the report issued by Cisco, between now and 2020, users connecting to the 4G networks will consist of 40 percent of all mobile phone connections, an increase from a low of only 13 percent last year.

In Australia 4G networks are rapidly being rolled out with telecos rushing to invest in infrastructure improvements. Spurred on by increasing demand for users wanting fast connection speeds and more mobile data.

Analysts at Cisco stated in the report that by 2017, users connected to 3G networks will surpass 2G, resulting in the eventual phasing out of the older 2G networks.

By 2020 though, 4G networks will be the de-facto standard, surpassing all previous legacy systems and will allow the telecos to focus on the implementation of 5G.

What’s the future for Australian consumers?

People need flexibility in the mobile plans which they subscribe to, allowing them to move providers to get the best deals and to add additional mobile data to their plan if they need it.

The costs of not having this flexibility are huge if people have to spend twice as much each year on data.

The market for SIM only and prepaid plans is highly competitive and each year we see mobile data allowances on plans increasing, as MVNOs bring increasing competition to the industry.

SIM only plans are more attractive each year as prepaid plans offer true flexibility to users, with competitive pricing and direct access to the national 3G and 4G mobile networks.

As users become more comfortable with managing their data, by using the apps offered by their service providers, or by using third party ones, managing data is easier than ever before.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.