Cisco has released a new report, titled Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 20102015 (PDF), that explains what happened in mobile traffic during 2010 and tries to predict what will happen in 2015. Cisco is the largest provider of computer networking gear, so the company has an ongoing initiative to track and forecast the impact of visual networking applications on global networks.

Global mobile data traffic grew 2.6-fold in 2010, nearly tripling for the third year in a row. Last year's forecast projected that the growth rate would be 149 percent, while this year's estimate is that global mobile data traffic grew 159 percent in 2010.

2010's mobile data traffic (237 petabytes per month) was three times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000 (75 petabytes per month). Mobile video traffic was at 49.8 percent of total mobile data traffic at the end of 2010. The average mobile network downstream speed more than doubled, from 101 kilobits per second (kbps) in 2009 to 215kbps in 2010. The average mobile network connection speed for smartphones increased from 625kbps in 2009 to 1040kbps in 2010.

The average amount of traffic per smartphone more than doubled from 35MB per month in 2009 to 79MB per month in 2010. Smartphones represent only 13 percent of total global handsets in use today, but they represent over 78 percent of total global handset traffic. In 2010, the typical smartphone generated 24 times more mobile data traffic (79MB per month) than the typical basic-feature cell phone (3.3MB per month).

In 2010, 3 million tablets were connected to the mobile network, and each tablet generated five times more traffic than the average smartphone (405MB per month). 94 million laptops were on the mobile network in 2010, and each laptop generated 22 times more traffic than the average smartphone (1.7GB per month).