AT&T recently revealed that mobile data traffic on its nationwide network has increased 100,000 percent since 2007 and according to estimates from networking giant Cisco Systems, the demand for mobile data isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.
Cisco’s Visual Network Index notes that current global mobile traffic usage sits at around 2.5 exabytes per month (one exabyte is equal to a billion gigabytes) but by 2019, that figure will soar to 25 exabytes.
Continued smartphone adoption as well as the rapid growth of connected wearables and Internet of Things devices will be the primary causes of the growth. In 2014 for example, there were 109 million wearable devices globally; by 2019, that figure is expected to swell to 578 million.
Even still, that doesn’t tell the entire story.
Cisco also believes that per-user data consumption will increase from a current average of about 2GB per month to nearly 11GB in the next five years. It’s not so much that people will be using more data but instead, they’ll have more devices connected to wireless networks under their name.
None of these figures factor in Wi-Fi usage which, in the US alone, takes roughly 66 percent of traffic off of wireless networks.
Equipped with these figures, it’s easier to see why wireless carriers were willing to shell out nearly $45 billion in the FCC’s most recent spectrum auction. The next auction, slated to take place in 2016, could command just as much – if not more – money.