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Video to account for three quarters of mobile traffic by 2021

Cisco_mobile-white-paper-c11-520862_24Mobile video will represent 78% of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2021, up from 60% of total mobile data traffic in 2016, according to Cisco.

In its latest Mobile Visual Networking Index forecast, Cisco estimated that mobile video will increase nine-fold between 2016 and 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54% – higher than the overall average mobile traffic CAGR of 47%.

While mobile video represented more than half of global mobile data traffic beginning in 2012, the report predicts that 38 of the 49 Exabytes per month crossing the mobile network by 2021 will be due to video.

“One consequence of the growth of video in both fixed and mobile contexts is the resulting acceleration of busy-hour traffic in relation to average traffic growth,” according to the study.

“Video usage tends to occur during evening hours and has a ‘prime time,’ unlike general web usage that occurs throughout the day. As a result, more video usage means more traffic during the peak hours of the day.”

Cisco predicted that the next five years will result in “unabated mobile video adoption” and said that backhaul capacity and efficiency must increase so that mobile broadband, data access, and video services can support consumer usage trends and keep mobile infrastructure costs in check.

“We continue to see evolution of mobile networks. While 4G or LTE connectivity is forecast to have the primary share of the market, there are field trails currently underway for 5G in some countries,” said the report.

“Operators must solve the challenge of effectively monetising video traffic while developing profitable business cases that support capital infrastructure expenditures needed for 5G.”

Cisco predicts that global mobile 4G connections will grow from 2.1 billion in 2016 to 6.1 billion by 2021 at a CAGR of 24%. It said it expects 5G connections to “appear on the scene” in 2020 and to grow more than a 1,000% from 2.3 million connections in 2020 to over 25 million in 2021.

This would mean that 5G will represent just 0.2% of mobile connections by 2021, but Cisco claims it will account for 1.5% of total traffic.

“By 2021, a 5G connection will generate 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection,” it said.

Cisco also noted that the accelerated acquisition of smartphones, tablets and wearable devices is “significantly contributing” to the development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) markets.

“VR headsets will grow from an installed base of 18 million in 2016 to nearly a 100 million by 2021, a growth of 40% CAGR. AR and VR market development is expected to follow a similar trend,” according to Cisco.

Globally, it expects VR mobile traffic to grow eleven-fold from 13.3 Petabytes per-month in 2016, to 140 Petabytes per-month in 2021. It predicted AR traffic to increase seven-fold between 2016 and 2021, from 3 Petabytes per month in 2016 to 21 Petabytes per month in 2021.