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February 7, 2017updated 08 Feb 2017 1:06pm

Cisco: By 2021 more people will have smartphones than running water

As connectivity around the globe increases, it's estimated that more people will have smartphones than running water.

By Joe Clark

A report from Cisco predicts that by 2021 there will be 5.5 billion people using smartphones and only to 5.3 billion with access to running water.

The report is the 11th annual Mobile Visual Networking Index forecast (VNI) and predicts the rapid growth of mobile and IoT uses between 2016 and 2021.

It is estimated that data traffic across the globe will reach up to 49 exabytes per month and 587 exabytes a year. One exabyte is over 1 billion gigabytes so this means that globally we will be generating over 100 times the traffic that we were in 2011.

Alex Guillen, Go-to-Market Marketing Manager at Insight said: “A key driver behind the predicted increase in mobile traffic by 2021 is mobile collaboration in the workplace.”

“Organisations are beginning to realise that if they want to remain competitive, they must consider a digital transformation strategy that has mobile at its heart.”


As ownership of smartphones rises to over 50% of the population video content is also expected to increase exponentially and will represent 78% of all mobile data by 2021, eight times the volume of 2016.

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However, this data will need to use much higher capacity connections and require much lower latency. As a result by 2020 5G services will start becoming available and by 2021 5G will account for 1.5% of global mobile traffic. Cisco predicts the capacity for data will be 4.7 times larger than 4G and 10.7 times larger than 3G.

Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing said: “With the proliferation of IoT, live mobile video, augmented and virtual reality applications, and more innovative experiences for consumer and business users alike, 5G technology will have significant relevance not just for mobility but rather for networking as a whole,”

Cisco predicts that other consumer electronics are set to boom over the next five years also. VR headsets will become almost five times more prevalent up from 18 million in 2016 to almost 100 million in 202, and over wearables 929 million wearables will be connected. As more devices become available and the entry price-point becomes lower their increased proliferation is inevitable.

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