Published On: Fri, Dec 8th, 2017

Trends that have taken Centre stage in 2017 in mobile data

In this digital age, mobile data usage is multiplying, thanks to social media and online presence becoming a prevalent part of everyday life.Mobile data usage exploded 42% from last year to 13.7 trillion megabytes, this equals to 35 times the amount of data used in the year 2010 and have the bandwidth to stream 1.6 million high-definition movies, according to the latest statistics from CTIA.

As per GSMA forecast, by 2018, the revenue generated by data traffic will exceed the revenue generated by voice traffic by $12 billion. Telecoms market research forecasts that mobile data revenue will reach $633 billion in 2018, whereas the global mobile data traffic will reach 17 exabytes per month.

Mobile data usage has tremendously risen due to smartphone addiction amongst users. Due to the superior end-user experience delivered by the faster networks and advanced devices, an average consumer currently spends more than three hours every day on the smartphone.

Video streaming has become the primary driver of mobile video data traffic as well, and in the next few years, peer to peer video calling services will continue to grow and increase the share of mobile data consumption.

In 2017, the world has reached a significant milestone in web usage as half of the world’s population is now connected to the internet. The total number of web users have increased by 10 percent from the year 2016. A critical factor contributing the growth in data usage is ‘Social Media’, which has seen 8 percent growth from last year.

Trends that have taken Centre stage in 2017 in mobile data

Trends in Mobile Data Usage

Mobile Data Consumption by Region:

North America leads the chart with 22 GB of estimated data consumption per consumerper month, followed by Western Europe at 18 GB. The Asia Pacific region has depicted 7 GB of data consumed per subscriber per month, which is nearly one-third that of North America.

However, Asia Pacific has thelargest share of mobile data traffic, 3.7 exabytes per month, contributed mainly due to smartphone proliferation. This is followed by CEMA region, whereas Latin America is at the bottom of the chart with 0.7 exabytes of mobile data traffic per month. The following table shows the region-wise mobile traffic:

Mobile Data Traffic by Region ExaBytes per Month (2016)
Asia Pacific 3.7
CEMA 1.4
Western Europe 1.2
North America 1.8
Latin America 0.7


Image Source: Ericsson Mobility Report

Data Consumption by Device and Applications

mobile data
Image Source: Ericsson Mobility Report

Video streaming has consumed highest data among all devicesaccounting for nearly half of all data consumed. Among video streaming apps, YouTube tops the market, with nearly 50-70% of all data traffic. Netflix ranks second with 10-20% of cellular traffic.

There has been 70% increase in the number of consumers who prefer watching content on their smartphones. However, 2/3rdof the younger population’s time is spent consuming TV shows and videos on tablets and laptops. Video consumption remains at the top of data consumption on asmartphone; social media follows behind!
There has been a steady increase in the volume of data traffic attributed to smartphones in recent years. Different classes of devices used in various consumption scenarios have led to the rise in data consumption across the world.Mobile’s share of web traffic accounts for 50%, followed by laptops and desktops at 45%, and tablets at 5%.

The data for second screening by device has shown tremendous growth in the mobile category over the years. Percentage of internet users whouse mobile devices whilewatching TV has increased to 69%, whereas laptop PC and tablets stand at 33% and 19% respectively. (See Figure 3)


Image Source: Global Web Index

The Way Forward

With theexplosion of smartphones, expansion of cell infrastructure, and broad adoption of mobile video, mobile data consumption will increase seven-fold by 2021, according to the Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index Forecast.

This means by 2021; mobile data will account for 20% of total internet traffic, which was just 8% in 2016.

Enhanced performance, expansion of networks, and the lower cost of high-performing devices will boost the number of global smartphones to 6.2 billion by 2021, accounting for 50 percent of connected devices globally.

The massive demand for mobile data has already burdened mobile carriers. This rapid growth of mobile data usage will increase the data networks offloading to Wi-Fi, and by 20121 this will compromise 63 percent of total mobile data.


data mobile

Image Source: Business Insider

Mobile data will see the fastest growth due to accelerated growth of AR, VR and live videos. According to projections, mobile video will increase 870% from 2016 to 2021, reaching 38 exabytes per month. This willrepresent 78% of total mobile data traffic.Ideally, the use of embedded video in social media and webpages, fueled by larger device screens, higher resolution and new platforms supporting live streaming will contribute to this growth.

The spectacular rise of mobile apps and mobile connectivity has fueled the growth of 4G, and sooner this will fuel the growth of 5G as well, which will, in turn,drive higher mobile data consumption. (see the projections in Figure 4)

The lack of robust network infrastructure for standards 4G network has been the holding back the mass handset and application adoption in the emerging markets. In the coming years, building up infrastructure in emerging markets will help spread richer app usage in these regions.

mobile data consumption

Image Source: Ericsson


To create a genuine mass market for data, operators will have to promote the growth in the volume of data and the number of users. Thus, to adapt to the new telecom market ruled by data, mobile operators will need to make some changes.

Mobile data management will be the solution that will enable operators to manage their network’s quality, service and bandwidth costs.

With mobile data management solutions, operators can efficiently manage the significant rise in network traffic, monetise data, and ultimately enhance the customer experience.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at

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