Mobile traffic will capture almost 20% of global traffic and reach 930 exabytes annually by 2022, according to a new study commissioned by Cisco. That exponential rise in cellular traffic would represent an increase of 113 times the global mobile traffic generated in 2012.
Mobile networks will also support more than eight billion personal mobile devices and four billion IoT connections by 2022, according to Cisco. In 2017, five billion people were on mobile devices but that number is projected to jump to 5.5 billion users by 2022.
The study also concluded that average global mobile network speeds will increase more than three-fold from 8.7 Mbps in 2017 to 28.5 Mbps by 2022. However, according to Cisco’s findings, relatively few of those gains will be attributed to 5G. By 2022, 5G connections will account for nearly 12% of global mobile connections, comprised of 422 million 5G devices and M2M connections. Overall, 5G will represent a little more than three percent of total mobile connections in three years, according to Cisco.
5G devices will consume a lot more traffic than 4G. The study expects 4G devices to generate an average of 8 GB per month compared to 22 GB per month for 5G devices.
Offloading the bulk of that traffic to fixed networks such as Wi-Fi will increase as 5G takes hold. More than half (54%) of mobile data traffic was offloaded to fixed networks in 2017 and that number is forecast to rise to 59% by 2022.
During the next three years, wired internet access will lose a significant share of total traffic, falling from 48% in 2017 to 29% in 2022. The share of traffic generated on Wi-Fi will jump from 43% in 2017 to 51% in 2022. To feed that growth, total Wi-Fi hotspots will grow from 124 million in 2017 to 549 million in 2022. And finally, cellular traffic will increase from 9% to 20% during the same period, according to Cisco.
“As global mobile traffic approaches the zettabyte era, we believe that 5G and Wi-Fi will coexist as necessary and complementary access technologies,” Jonathan Davidson, SVP of Cisco’s service provider business, said in a prepared statement.