Global mobile data traffic will reach as high as 3.6 exabytes a month, or 40 exabytes a year, by 2014, according to Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index on mobile data use.
Cisco puts the growth down to increases in the volume of available mobile devices, and a rise in the amount of mobile video content.
These factors will lead to an annual mobile data traffic growth rate of 108 per cent, according to the report. Mobile video alone will take up two-thirds of all mobile traffic within five years, a 66-fold increase from last year.
Doug Webster, senior director for service provider marketing at Cisco, said mobile data traffic is growing faster than had been expected five years ago.
"The rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, netbooks, e-readers and web-ready video cameras, as well as machine-to-machine applications like e-health monitoring and asset tracking systems, is continuing to place unprecedented demands on mobile networks," he added.
"In spite of the economic downturn, the demand for mobile services has remained high, posing challenges and opportunities for service providers worldwide."
Cisco expects to see smartphones and laptops with wireless cards to drive 90 per cent of mobile traffic within five years, by which time 400 million internet users will access the internet through a mobile connection only.
The report said that the average mobile broadband connection consumes 7GB of data traffic a month, equivalent to about 3,500 music tracks.
Supporting the results, Cisco also announced the ASR 5000, which it said is the first result of its early acquisition of Starent.
Pitched at mobile operators, the 5000 provides a platform designed for supporting the growth in mobile traffic. Cisco said that it offered an end-to-end internet protocol next generation network (IP NGN) architecture, and could accomodate the rapid growth in traffic it is predicting.
Cisco will discuss the ASR 5000 and its other IP NGN tools and systems at GSMA Mobile World Congress later this month.
Juniper Networks also announced a series of network tools yesterday aimed at helping service providers manage increasing amounts of mobile data. The firm said that its Traffic Data product can let providers free up space on their networks by shifting mobile traffic on to the fixed internet.
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