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Major 5G mobile networking deployments will almost certainly be rolling out by the end of the decade, as carriers come under pressure to address the ever-increasing need for speed, low latency and dynamic provisioning capabilities to support growing user demand for data traffic and innovative services.
This was one of the headline findings of Cisco’s latest Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) report, previous editions of which have eagerly forecast that, very soon, more people will be using mobile devices than will have access to running water.
In its 11th VNI report, Cisco predicted 5G would account for 1.5% of total mobile data traffic by 2021, with each connection over 5G generating 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection, and 10.7 times more traffic than the average 3G connection.
“With the proliferation of IoT [internet of things], live mobile video, augmented and virtual reality applications, and more innovative experiences for consumer and business users alike, 5G technology will have significant relevance not just for mobility, but rather for networking as a whole,” said Doug Webster, vice-president of service provider marketing at Cisco.
“As a result, broader and more extensive architectural transformations involving programmability and automation will also be needed to support the capabilities 5G enables, and to address not just today’s demands, but also the extensive possibilities on the horizon,” added Webster.
Mobile data traffic looks set to grow sevenfold over the five years to 2021, said Cisco, with total volumes reaching 49 exabytes (EB) per month – equivalent to 49 billion gigabytes (GB) – over three-quarters of which will be video.
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At the same time, even more data traffic will be offloaded onto Wi-Fi hotspots – as much as 63% by 2021. In 2016, said Cisco, monthly offload traffic from mobile devices using Wi-Fi connections hit about 10.7EB, 3.5EB higher than the amount of mobile traffic.
Additionally, mobile data traffic will represent 20% of all internet traffic in 2021, up from 8% of total IP traffic in 2016. Average connection speeds will have increased from 6.8Mbps last year to 20.4Mbps, and machine-to-machine (M2M) or IoT connections will represent 29% of total mobile connections, up from 5% last year.
Alex Guillen, Insight
Alex Guillen, go-to-market marketing manager at Insight, a reseller of ICT hardware and cloud services to enterprise clients, said mobile collaboration in the workplace would be a key driver behind the increases in traffic predicted by Cisco.
“Organisations are beginning to realise that if they want to remain competitive, they must consider a digital transformation strategy that has mobile at its heart. Small startup companies that are entering the market every day have mobile collaboration in their DNA, increasing their ability to be agile in response to market fluctuations, whereas larger enterprises are often still running on legacy systems, making it harder for them to scale and be flexible,” said Guillen.
“With increasing network connection speeds, more sophisticated devices and accessibility of cloud-based collaboration platforms, enterprises have an opportunity to innovate the way they do business. What’s more, digitally savvy consumers are adapting to the digital tide faster than organisations, making employees themselves some of the biggest industry disruptors. We’re seeing the emergence of a hyper-connected workforce, and the next five years will see organisations evolve to keep up,” he added.