Video still causing mobile data traffic to shoot through the roof

Add some M2M into the mix... and trouble's coming


Currently, there are as many mobile subscriptions as people in the world, and every second, 20 new mobile broadband subscriptions are activated. This, and the increased video consumption on mobile devices, is pushing data consumption to new heights - mobile data traffic in Q3 2015 was 65 per cent higher than the previous year, according to Ericsson’s latest version of its bi-annual Mobility Report.

Ericsson expects that almost 70 per cent of all mobile data traffic will be from video by 2021, growing 55 per cent annually during this period.

In 2015, video accounted for around 50 per cent of mobile traffic. The report also notes that currently, in many mobile networks, a whopping 50 per cent to 70 per cent of video traffic is from YouTube - the mobile app gets 98.9 million unique visitors per month in the US alone.

Netflix's share can reach up to 20 per cent in markets where it is available. Of course in both cases this is only cellular delivered data that’s being measured, not Wi-Fi to a phone. In the entire internet YouTube is nothing like 50 per cent of traffic, not even close.

Music streaming is also a driving factor for data consumption, apps such as Spotify are hugely popular, however, functions such as content caching and offline playlists reduce the impact on traffic growth. Ericsson also says that social networking traffic will fall from 15 per cent in 2015 to 10 per cent in 2021, due to the rapid growth of mobile video intake.

The Mobility Report notes that smartphone model upgrades are a factor in data consumption, with average use increasing between 20 per cent and 45 per cent per subscription following an upgrade. Data consumption growth was found to be lower in advanced markets with shorter device lifecycles, compared to less developed markets.

A few days after a device upgrade, software download traffic share surges. After a week, traffic consumption shows the normal average pattern with video-dominated traffic.

By region, Ericsson forecasts that data traffic per active smartphone in North America will grow from 3.8GB to 22 GB per month by 2021; in Western Europe, the increase is from 2GB to 18GB per month.

There will also be a plethora of other connected devices communicating, apart from mobile devices. Out of a total forecast of 28 billion connected devices – more than 15 billion will be Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and consumer electronic devices by 2021, says Ericsson.

According to an Ericsson Consumer Lab study, around 60 per cent of Wi-Fi calling users surveyed claim they now make more frequent and longer voice calls, while around half say they have replaced some OTT app communication.

The focal point of the Mobility Report is Ericsson’s prediction that there will be 150 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2021. This is quite an ambitious forecast surrounding the mass hysteria of an all-encompassing network that doesn’t yet exist – but when it is eventually deployed, it will certainly have an impact on a wider area of our lives.

Ericsson predicts that South Korea, Japan, China and the US will take the lead with the first, and fastest, 5G subscription uptake. Here are the list of 5G ingredients if you take the 5GPPP vision; it will be a heterogeneous network (using multiple spectrum and radio technologies); it will in fact support three different kinds of traffic profiles, high throughput for video services, low energy for long-lived IoT sensors and low latency for mission critical enterprise services. Small cells will drift slowly towards Ultra Dense Networks.

And all of this will be on a single network, not some on Wi-Fi, some on cellular and some on specialist IoT networks. Because if the cellular community doesn’t own all of it, there won’t be enough money to go around.

5G will integrate networking, computing and storage into one programmable and unified infrastructure and leverage from the characteristic of current cloud computing, and create the oppor- tunity for virtual pan European operators. There will be variants for vertical markets such as automotive, energy, food and agricul- ture, city management, government, healthcare, manufacturing and public transportation.

For the past five years we have talked to people chasing that simple problem of how to be sure that cellular customers are getting the experience that we imagine we are sending to them OTT – simple QoS and no one has been able to agree on a simple process for it. Solving that alone by 2021 would be an accomplishment in itself.

Last week’s announcement of the partnership between Ericsson and Cisco saw the two tech giants outline a key goal to create a new mobile enterprise platform based on a “highly secure technology architecture for seamless indoor/outdoor networks”, which would presumably tap into Cisco’s Wi-Fi and Ericsson’s LTE and 5G work; and the acceleration of platforms for the IoT.

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