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Mobile Video Growth Continues Apace

By Dennis Jones

Mobile data demand will continue to grow

It’s been said many times that content is king. But after the release of the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, it might be time to get more precise. It’s video content that’s king. And recently reported mobile video growth numbers show that the consumption of mobile video content isn’t slowing down any time soon.

In fact, according to the VNI, mobile video growth will be overwhelming within a forecast period of five years. Specifically by 2021, video consumption will grow by nearly a factor of nine, 870 percent. What that means is that in four short years, mobile video consumption will account for a staggering 78 percent of total mobile traffic, with mobile video growth easily outpacing increases in any other mobile app categories. As an aside: those sectors aren’t too badly either.

Undergirding this spectacular mobile video growth is the rise of live video, which has been striking. By the end of the forecast period, Cisco predicts that live video will represent a small, yet significant, five percent of all mobile video traffic.

So what’s propelling live mobile video growth? Look no further than social media. To start, investments both by social media heavyweights, Facebook and Twitter, and relative newcomers, like Snapchat, are paying off handsomely in higher usage numbers. Facebook, for instance, has said that its members tend to watch live video for longer than they watch other types of video.

YouTube is another big culprit. Live video viewings on YouTube increased by 80 percent last year. Additionally, the number of livestreams posted increased by 130 percent.

Of course, people need a global mobile connectivity mode if they want to access all of this mobile video content, live or not. In that respect, global Wi-Fi continues to remain a great option. Cisco estimates strong growth in public Wi-Fi access (including homespots,) which will increase six-fold, from 94 million hotspots to 541.6 million hotspots, during the forecast period.

Cisco also made predictions about mobile use across regions. To no one’s surprise, emerging markets continue to register strong compound annual growth, with the Middle East and Africa set to grow at 4.1 percent, followed by 3.2 percent in Asia Pacific. Mature markets, on the other hand, will see sclerotic growth, which might be the result of mobile over-saturation. Specifically, North America will grow at a shade over one percent, while Western Europe will grow at a paltry .5 percent.

Meanwhile, the trend line looks overwhelmingly positive for the global mobile industry in general. Mobile users will increase by more than 500 million and enjoy faster mobile speeds. Moreover, those users will log four billion more mobile connections, thanks in part to the growth of connected devices, which will account for nearly 30 percent of total mobile connections.

There was even more good news tucked into the index. Smartphones (including phablets) will constitute more than 50 percent of global devices and connections, 100 percent growth over 2016 numbers. Virtual reality headsets are also growing by leaps and bounds; from 18 million in 2016, there will be a forecasted 100 million by 2021. Similarly, wearables are showing impressive growth and are set to treble by 2021. Connected wearables will increase as well.