In five years time the global volume of mobile data traffic will be eight times more than what is expected for this year.
This total traffic volume from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices will exceed 107 exabytes (107 billion gigabytes) in 2017, says a new forecast from ABI Research. Senior analyst Aapo Markkanen points out that, although the numbers may sound huge, they shouldn't be taken as yet another warning of the untamable data tsunami mobile operators often try to portray for regulatory reasons.
"It looks like 2015 will be the last year when the traffic volume will grow by more than 50% annually. And that will happen despite of the fact that the monthly average per wireless subscriber, worldwide, will increase to almost 1.5 gigabytes by the end of our forecasting period,” Markkanen says.
A lot of the overall data consumption will depend on how much of on-demand video content will in the end be delivered over mobile networks, so changes implemented by individual content providers may have far-reaching effects. Netflix, for example, recently added to its iOS app a simple function by which users can limit their viewing to Wi-Fi only and thereby avoid high charges.
Besides accidental video streams, app downloads and updates are another activity that can be easily steered onto fixed networks. High-end Android smartphones, for example, have developed a reputation of being the worst sort of data hogs, but that is to a great extent just because Google has paid so little attention to the issue when designing its platform.
More recently, though, both Android and Google Play have seen improvements that make it much easier for the end-users to monitor and control their data usage.
Jake Saunders, VP for core forecasting, concludes, "Inadvertent data consumption has thus far been a surprisingly large source of traffic, but in the next couple of years we will see more and more of relatively quick fixes in the OS and the application levels. They will substantially ease this 'needless' burden on networks."