According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold over the next four years, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month (for an annual run rate of 134 exabytes) by 2017.
An exabyte is a unit of information or computer storage equal to one quintillion bytes.
Cisco says the expected steady increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile Internet connections personal devices and machine-to-machine applications), which will exceed the world's population (United Nations estimates 7.6 billion) by 2017.
The forecast's annual run rate of 134 exabytes of mobile data traffic is equivalent to:
* 134 times all the Internet Protocol traffic (fixed and mobile) generated in the year 2000, or
* 30 trillion images (e.g., via MMS or Instagram) -- 10 images daily from each person on earth for one year, or
* three trillion video clips (e.g., YouTube) -- one video clip daily from each person on earth over one year.
“The projected 2012 to 2017 global mobile data traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 66%,” Cisco said in a release. “The incremental amount of traffic being added to the mobile Internet just between 2016 and 2017 is 3.7 exabytes per month, which is more than four times the estimated size of the entire mobile Internet in 2012.
The study notes that nearly half of all cellular traffic will be off-loaded to fixed or Wi-Fi networks by 2017.