Upward Mobility

By Jennifer Lawinski  |  Posted Tuesday, March 06, 2012 18:03 PM

By Tim Moran
Is there still any doubt that it's a mobile world? Yes? Well, consider:

• Global mobile data traffic grew 2.3-fold in 2011, more than doubling for the fourth year in a row.

• Mobile video traffic exceeded 50 percent for the first time in 2011.

• Smartphones represent only 12 percent of total global handsets in use today, but they represent over 82 percent of total global handset traffic.

• In 2011, the number of mobile-connected tablets tripled to 34 million, and each tablet generated 3.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone.

There's plenty more of this kind of data in the "Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update," which is part of an ongoing Cisco initiative to track and forecast the impact of visual networking applications on global networks.

The report not only looks at data traffic today; it looks forward, too. And some of the things it predicts are pretty alarming. For example:

• The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world's population in 2012.

• Tablets will exceed 10 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2016.

• China will exceed 10 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2016.

Another milestone that the mobile data network will soon reach, according to Cisco, is that, by the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2016 there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita. Astounding. What's more, says the report, global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016, and two-thirds of that traffic will be video by 2016. In other words, mobile video will generate more than 70 percent of mobile data traffic in five years. Unreal.

The report offers up tons more data such as this at an astonishing level of detail, so if mobile data is your thing, by all means take the deep dive. However, if you if you are still one of those who might doubt that mobile is where it's at, think about this one for a second:

• Last year's global mobile data traffic (597 petabytes per month) was more than eight times greater than the total global Internet traffic in 2000 (75 petabytes per month).

And we thought the Web was a massive sea change--this is a tsunami. Better be ready for it.