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A global look at the massive rise of smartphones

Last updated on: February 8, 2013 09:21 IST

A global look at the massive rise of smartphones

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There are millions of people around the world who are already using smartphones not only to make calls but also to access Internet, and this figure is projected to see a massive increase.

Cisco, an American multinational corporation, has come out with an in-depth study on the future of smartphones.

Let's take a look at the projected growth of the smartphone usage around the world.

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Data traffic

Global mobile data traffic grew 70 per cent in 2012. Worldwide mobile data traffic reached 885 petabytes per month at the end of 2012, up from 520 petabytes per month at the end of 2011.

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Global data

Worldwide mobile data traffic in 2012 (885 petabytes per month) was nearly 12 times greater than the total global Internet traffic in 2000 (75 petabytes per month).

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Video traffic

Mobile video traffic exceeded 50 per cent for the first time in 2012.

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Network speed

Globally, the average mobile network downstream speed in 2012 was 526 kilobits per second (kbps), up from 248 kbps in 2011.

The average mobile network connection speed for smartphones in 2012 was 2,064 kbps, up from 1,211 kbps in 2011.

The average mobile network connection speed for tablets in 2012 was 3,683 kbps, up from 2,030 kbps in 2011.

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4G connections

In 2012, a fourth-generation connection generated 19 times more traffic on average than a non-4G connection. Although 4G connections represent only 0.9 per cent of mobile connections today, they already account for 14 per cent of mobile data traffic.

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Data subscribers

The top one per cent of mobile data subscribers generate 16 per cent of mobile data traffic, down from 52 per cent at the beginning of 2010.

According to a mobile data usage study conducted by Cisco, mobile data traffic has evened out over the last year and is now lower than the 1:20 ratio that has been true of fixed networks for several years.

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Average usage

Average smartphone usage grew 81 per cent in 2012. The average amount of traffic per smartphone in 2012 was 342 MB per month, up from 189 MB per month in 2011.

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Total handsets

Smartphones represented only 18 per cent of total global handsets in use in 2012, but represented 92 per cent of total global handset traffic.

In 2012, the typical smartphone generated 50 times more mobile data traffic (342 MB per month) than the typical basic-feature mobile phone (which generated only 6.8 MB per month of mobile data traffic).

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Fixed network

Globally, 33 per cent of total mobile data traffic was offloaded onto the fixed network through Wi-Fi or femtocell in 2012.

In 2012, 429 petabytes of mobile data traffic were offloaded onto the fixed network each month. Without offload, mobile data traffic would have grown 96 per cent rather than 70 per cent in 2012.

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Android consumption

Android is now higher than iPhone levels of data use. By the end of 2012, average Android consumption exceeded average iPhone consumption in the United States and Western Europe.

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IPv6-capable

In 2012, 14 per cent of mobile devices and connections were potentially IPv6-capable. This estimate is based on network connection speed and OS capability.

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Tablet usage

In 2012, the number of mobile-connected tablets increased 2.5-fold to 36 million, and each tablet generated 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone.

In 2012, mobile data traffic per tablet was 820 MB per month, compared to 342 MB per month per smartphone.

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Laptop numbers

There were 161 million laptops on the mobile network in 2012, and each laptop generated seven times more traffic than the average smartphone.

Mobile data traffic per laptop was 2.5 GB per month in 2012, up 11 per cent from 2.3 GB per month in 2011.

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Basic handsets

Non-smartphone usage increased 35 per cent to 6.8 MB per month in 2012, compared to 5.0 MB per month in 2011. Basic handsets still make up the vast majority of handsets on the network (82 per cent).

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Mobile data traffic will reach the following milestones within the next five years:

i) Monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 10 exabytes in 2017

ii) The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world's population in 2013

iii) The average mobile connection speed will surpass one Mbps in 2014

iv) Due to increased usage on smartphones, handsets will exceed 50 per cent of mobile data traffic in 2013

v) Monthly mobile tablet traffic will surpass one exabyte per month in 2017

vi) Tablets will exceed 10 per cent of global mobile data traffic in 2015

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Compound growth

Global mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold between 2012 and 2017. Mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 66 per cent from 2012 to 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month by 2017.

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Mobile-connected devices

By the end of 2013, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2017 there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita.

There will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices in 2017, including machine-to-machine modules-exceeding the world's population at that time (7.6 billion).

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Network speed

Mobile network connection speeds will increase seven-fold by 2017. The average mobile network connection speed (526 kbps in 2012) will exceed 3.9 megabits per second (Mbps) in 2017.

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4G traffic

In 2017, 4G will be 10 per cent of connections, but 45 per cent of total traffic. In 2017, a 4G connection will generate eight times more traffic on average than a non-4G connection.

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IPv6-capablility

By 2017, 41 per cent of all global mobile devices and connections could potentially be capable of connecting to an IPv6 mobile network. Over 4.2 billion devices and connections will be IPv6-capable in 2017.

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Video traffic

Two-thirds of the world's mobile data traffic will be video by 2017. Mobile video will increase 16-fold between 2012 and 2017, accounting for over 66 per cent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period.

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Tablet data

Mobile-connected tablets will generate more traffic in 2017 than the entire global mobile network in 2012. The amount of mobile data traffic generated by tablets in 2017 (1.3 exabytes per month) will be 1.5 times higher than the total amount of global mobile data traffic in 2012 (885 petabytes per month).

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Compound data

The average smartphone will generate 2.7 GB of traffic per month in 2017, an eight-fold increase over the 2012 average of 342 MB per month.

Aggregate smartphone traffic in 2017 will be 19 times greater than it is today, with a CAGR of 81 per cent.

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Fixed networks

By 2017, almost 21 exabytes of mobile data traffic will be offloaded to the fixed network by means of Wi-Fi devices and femtocells each month.

Without Wi-Fi and femtocell offload, total mobile data traffic would grow at a CAGR of 74 per cent between 2012 and 2017 (16-fold growth), instead of the projected CAGR of 66 per cent (13-fold growth).

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Regional growth

The Middle East and Africa will have the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region at 77 per cent CAGR. This region will be followed by Asia Pacific at 76 per cent and Latin America at 67 per cent.


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