By 2018, more mobile handset data will be delivered by Wi-Fi than the mobile network, Cisco predicts. Globally, 45 percent of total mobile data traffic was offloaded onto the fixed network using Wi-Fi or a femtocell in 2013.
Without offload mechanisms, mobile data traffic would have grown 98 percent rather than 81 percent in 2013, according to Cisco.
And as is the case at present, 3G still will be the leading mobile broadband network in 2018.
Video will be a factor, as mobile video traffic was 53 percent of total data consumption by the end of 2013. By 2018, mobile video will represent 69 percent of global mobile traffic.
Most users will find they cannot watch much video on their mobile devices, using their mobile data plans, before exceeding usage limits. So there will be a clear incentive to shift video consumption to Wi-Fi networks.
Another important indicator of change is the amount of predicted machine-to-machine traffic.
By 2015, M2M traffic will surpass feature phone traffic, according to the Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Forecast, 2013-2018.
To be sure, the bulk of those devices will be personal mobile devices, not telemetry devices such as utility meter sensors. By 2018, of the more than 10 billion mobile-ready devices, about eight billion will be personal mobile devices. Some two billion M2M connections also will be in use.
By 2018, M2M devices will represent the third-biggest category of devices in use, after smart phones and feature phones. By way of comparison, M2M devices are predicted to represent nearly 20 percent of total connected mobile devices, where tablets will represent five percent of total devices in use, and PCs 2.6 percent of connections.