2017 Cisco VNI Quantifies Mobile’s Growth and Wi-Fi’s Role


Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 to 2021), cites Maravedis’ Wi-Fi research. We are proud to be participating to such a landmark forecasting mode. According to Cisco:

  • Mobile data traffic to represent 20 percent of total IP traffic—up from just 8 percent of total IP traffic in 2016.
  • 1.5 mobile devices per capita. Nearly 12 billion mobile-connected devices (up from 8 billion and 1.1 per capita in 2016), including M2M modules.
  • Mobile network connection speeds will increase threefold from 6.8 Mbps in 2016 to 20.4 Mbps by 2021.
  • Machine-to-machine (M2M) connections will represent 29 percent (3.3 billion) of total mobile connections—up from 5 percent (780 million) in 2016. M2M will be the fastest growing mobile connection type as global Internet of Things (IoT) applications continue to gain traction in consumer and business environments.
  • 4G will support 58 percent of total mobile connections by 2021—up from 26 percent in 2016 and will account for 79 percent of total mobile data traffic.
  • The total number of smartphones (including phablets) will be over 50 percent of global devices and connections (6.2 billion)—up from 3.6 billion in 2016.


Another significant takeaway is the dramatic growth in M2M devices; Cisco forecasts this category to grow 11 percent CAGR, and expects that by 2017, M2M and handsets will make up 77 percent of the devices. This three-fold incremental growth will see 8 billion devices connected M2M by 2017, with traffic on them to grow 20 times, not including products using RFID chips. Cisco credits this proliferation in M2M is a result of the rise of IPv6-capable connections, in combination with IPv6-capable devices, and content providers’ capability to support it.

To maximize their share of the M2M/IoT market – and the revenue that comes with it – mobile operators will need to adopt a host of emerging low-power wide-area (LPWA) cellular technologies: LoRa, Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA), Ultra Narrow Band (UNB), Extended Coverage GSM (EC-GSM), LTE Machine Type (LTE-M) and the LTE-based Narrow Band (NB) IoT. These proprietary and standards-based LPWA technologies will help cellular meet IoT’s price and cost requirements, which are significantly lower than those of smartphones and tablets. Without them, cellular will lose IoT market share to Wi-Fi, partly because its chipsets are so inexpensive and partly because its indoor coverage often is superior to cellular’s.

The Wi-Fi community also isn’t resting on its laurels. Cisco which uses our projection numbers, also says that public WiFi hotspots (including homespots) will grow six-fold from 2016 (94.0 million) to 2021 (541.6 mil-lion) and that WiFi traffic from both mobile devices and WiFi-only devices together will account for almost half (49%) of total IP traf-fic by 2020, up from 42% in 2015.

To read the full press release.

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Mr. Fellah, is a Senior Analyst and founder of Maravedis with 20-year experience in the wireless industry. He authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G and technology trends in various industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality. He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless and marketing events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, 4G 360, Rethink Wireless, The Mobile Network, Telecom Reseller to name a few. He is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS).


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