Huge growth in video traffic, mobile data, and smart device usage by 2020


Three-quarters of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2020 will be video, according to a new report, and 55 per cent of mobile data traffic is video today, it says.

The report, Cisco’s Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update 2015–2020, also predicts that there will be 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices by the end of the decade – far exceeding the world’s projected population of 7.8 billion, meaning an average of 1.5 devices per person in 2020.

Mobile device numbers already exceed the human population: currently, there are 7.9 billion mobile devices/connections worldwide, against a population of 7.4 billion.

More than half a billion mobile devices were connected in 2015 alone, according to Cisco, helping mobile data traffic to grow by 74 per cent last year: 3.7 exabytes a month, up from 2.1 exabytes in 2014. Fifty-one per cent of that traffic was offloaded onto the fixed network, via wifi (or so-called ‘femtocell’ base stations). Per-user mobile data usage for iOS devices was higher than for Android users.

However, Cisco forecasts that, by 2020, monthly mobile data usage will be nearly ten times higher overall, at 30.6 exabytes. Smartphones and phablets will account for nearly 50 per cent of device connections by the end of the decade, while 4G connections will have the highest share (over 40 per cent) of total mobile connections.

By 2020, mobile-connected tablets will generate nearly eight times more traffic than was generated in 2015. The amount of mobile data traffic generated by tablets by 2020 (2.6 exabytes per month) will be 7.6 times higher than in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50 per cent.

Related stories:
• IoT device numbers to explode in 2016
• Cisco acquires Jasper

About Author

Chris Middleton

Chris Middleton is a widely respected business and technology journalist, author, and magazine editor. In recent years he has been Editor of Computing (where he remains Consulting Editor); co-founder and Managing Editor of Professional Outsourcing – a magazine he developed from scratch and grew to be the leading magazine in its field; Editor of CBR in its most successful year; and co-founder and launch Editor of Today, he is co-Director of EastwoodMiddleton Publishing, and founder, designer, and Editor in Chief of Strategist magazine (UK), the boardroom magazine that provides strategic insight for business leaders, and of its mobile-first digital edition at He is also co-founding Editor of Child Internet Safety magazine, and a contributing Editor of Over the years Chris has also written for, among many others, The Guardian, The Times, the BBC, and Computer Weekly. He is the author of several successful books on digital media, and a commissioning editor of more than 50 books.