Forecast for mobile data traffic: full speed ahead

Anyone wondering about sustainability of mobile computing trends should hold on to his or her hat. Global mobile data traffic more than doubled for the fourth year in a row in 2011, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) released Feb. 14. In fact, last year’s mobile data traffic was eight times greater than total global Internet traffic in 2000, the report stated.

Data traffic per smartphone averaged 150 MB per month in 2011, nearly triple the average of 55 MB per month in 2010, the report said. And while smartphones represent only 12 percent of total handsets in use today, they account for more than 82 percent of total handset traffic.

The VNI report said non-smartphone usage more than doubled to 4.3 MB per month in 2011, compared to 1.9 MB per month.

Mobile-connected tablets tripled to 34 million in 2011, and each tablet generated 3.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone, the VNI report said.

And not to be forgotten are the 175 million laptops on the mobile network, with each laptop generating 22 times more traffic than the average smartphone. Mobile data traffic per laptop was 2.1 GB per month in 2011, up 46 percent from 1.5 GB per month in 2010.

Another point to put the growth of mobile data traffic in perspective: The number of mobile-connected devices will surpass the world’s population in 2012.

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