Corporate Eye

Global Mobile Data Traffic Will Increase 11-Fold by 2018

global mobile digitalAt this point, every brand manager knows that mobile should be a top priority, but some companies and leadership teams are slow to make the investment commitments to give mobile the attention it needs today. If you’re looking for data to help you make your case for a larger mobile marketing budget to your executives, there is some compelling data in the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013-2018 that can help you.

For example, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population by 2014. By 2018, the number of personal mobile devices and machine-to-machine connections will be 1.4 times greater than the world’s population, which the United Nations estimates to be 7.6 billion people by 2018. Specifically, the number of mobile devices and connections will reach 10 billion by 2018 (up from 7 billion in 2013), and there will be 4.9 mobile users (up from 4.1 billion in 2013).

If those numbers aren’t compelling enough to convince the powers-that-be that mobile should be a strategic imperative, here is another piece of data which is sure to get their attention. By 2018, mobile data traffic will increase nearly 11-fold globally with an annual run rate of 190 exabytes. For reference, an exabyte equals one billion gigabytes. To give that that 190 exabyte annual run rate some perspective, think of it this way—that’s 190 times more than all mobile and fixed internet traffic generated in 2000. It’s also equal to 42 trillion images or 15 images per person on earth per day for one year. It’s also equal to 4 trillion online videos from sites like YouTube or more than one video clip per person on earth per day for one year.

According to Cisco, the incremental amount of traffic added to the mobile internet between 2017 and 2018 alone will be 5.1 exabytes per month, “which is more than three times the estimated size of the entire mobile internet in 2013 (1.5 exabytes per month).”

In 2012, mobile video traffic made up more than half of all traffic for the first time. In 2013, mobile video traffic made up 53% of traffic, and by 2018, it will make up 69% of all global mobile data traffic. The reason for all of this mobile growth isn’t just more devices and connections. By 2018, Cisco reports that the average mobile network speed will nearly double to 2.5 Mbps (up from 1.4 Mbps in 2013). In fact, it will exceed 2 Mbps by 2016! By 2018, the average smartphone will generate 5-times more traffic each month than 2013 (up from 529 MB per month in 2013 to 2.7 GB of traffic per month by 2018).

The data tells the story of how most consumers will primarily communicate, get information, and be entertained in the very near future. Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to turn down a marketing plan that prioritizes mobile.

Image: ilker

The following two tabs change content below.
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.