Cisco has released last month their (usual) forecast on data growth and staggering numbers are given on the increase of data communications based on cell phone.
As you can see in the graph on the left the expectation is that by 2016 the cell phones ” data chatting” will exceed 120 EB per year, that is more than the total traffic we had in communications only 5 years ago and one fifth of the traffic we had on Internet in 2010 (670 EB).
I suggest to read the paper to get all their forecast.
What impressed me is the estimate of an 18 old growth in mobile data traffic in six years, that is slightly faster than the Moore’s law (in the same period Moore’s law would forecast a 16 fold growth).
This is clearly fueled by the growth of mobile phone, they expect the number of cell phones to equal the number of people on Earth by the end of 2012 to go on up to 1.4 cell phone per capita in 2016! Better screens are also playing a role in the forecasted increase of data traffic.
Personally, I think that part of this growth is going to be fueled by a progressive shift towards an all you can eat – flat rate. Possibly, for the next few years we are still going to see bundled offer with a data volume cap, but this is likely to increase in size and by 2016 I can easily predict that the data ceiling (the amount of data contained in the flat offer) will be significantly bigger than today’s 500MB/1GB.
By the end of this decade I find difficult to believe that we won’t have a real all you can eat data tariffing on mobile, as we already have on fixed line. Particularly for the youngster, we have seen that they are pretty good in consuming all what you allow them in the bundled price and never exceed the thresholds. Once Operator will learn how to make money indirectly they will start to increase the ceiling and that won’t take long. At least, this is my bet.