Mobile data traffic turns 4G

Mobile data traffic on 4G networks is tipped to grow by 207% in 2013, topping a forecast 99% increase in 3G-derived data, ABI Research predicts.
The firm notes that mobile data traffic on 4G networks is accelerating, particularly in developed markets, despite 3G networks dominating growth in mobile data traffic during 2012. According to ABI’s figures, total mobile data traffic grew 69% to 13,412 petabytes year-on-year in 2012, with 46% delivered on 3G networks.
“4G is rapidly gaining traction,” research associate Marina Lu notes. “Verizon Wireless, for example, has reported that 50% of its data usage is on 4G.”
ABI attributes much of the growth in overall mobile data traffic to the download and usage of mobile apps. It claims downloads grew 88% to 36.2 billion in 2012, and that Asia Pacific overtook North America as the leading region, accounting for 39% of the total compared to 25% for North America.
Mobile video streaming and downloads are tipped to grow in the next five years, with ABI predicting such traffic will account for 56% of the total by 2018, eclipsing the 2012 market leader, IP and web browsing, which accounted for 51% of total traffic last year.
Jake Saunders, ABI’s vice president for forecasting, says operators will continue to stave off the threat of over the top (OTT) services with enterprise applications during the five year forecast period. “The emergent growth in enterprise apps does have potential,” he says, noting AT&T and Orange “have invested in enterprise apps, setting up their own in-house service teams.”