The amount of mobile data traffic each month across the globe will hit 10.8 exabytes in 2016, says Cisco.
According to the firm's Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, that's a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 78 percent.
Cisco said average mobile data traffic increased by 133 percent in 2011 to 597petabytes per month compared to the previous year and was higher than the 131 percent that was originally anticipated. Furthermore, the global monthly mobile traffic figure is more than eight times the 75petabytes recorded in 2000. Cisco says mobile video made up 52 percent of all the mobile traffic in 2011. However, this is expected to increase 25-fold by 2016, when it will account for over 70 percent of total mobile data traffic.
"By 2016, 60 percent of mobile users - three billion people worldwide - will belong to the 'Gigabyte Club,' each generating more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month," said Suraj Shetty, vice president of product and solutions marketing, Cisco.
"By contrast, in 2011, only one-half percent of mobile users qualified. This impressive growth in mobile traffic will be driven by more powerful devices, notably smartphones and tablets, using faster networks, such as 4G and Wi-Fi, to access more applications, particularly data-intensive video."
The average mobile download speed in 2011 was 315kbps which is up on 189kbps in 2010. On average, smartphones are responsible for 150MB of data consumed on mobile networks each month compared to 55MB in the previous year. That's 35 times more mobile traffic than generated by feature phones that are responsible for 4.3MB per month.
However, the firm predicts this will exceed 2.9Mbps in 2016. Cisco also believes the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world's population in 2012 and by 2016 there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita. Cisco expects there to be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices in 2016 with a world population of 7.3 billion.
The number of mobile connected tablet PCs will also surge. In 2011 there were 34 million mobile-connected tablets , which each generated 517MB per month of mobile traffic. This equates to 3.4 times more traffic than that generated by smartphones. Cisco expects this to rise to 1.1exabytes per month by 2016, while smartphones will be responsible for 2.6GB of traffic per month. Furthermore, the average mobile connection speed will surpass 1Mbps by 2014.
The number of IPv6-capable mobile devices will also rise from 10 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2016.