Voice is overwhelmed by data

Data traffic is growing exponentially whilst voice (on mobile) is basically flat. Credit: Akamai

According to the periodical Ericsson Mobility Report voice represented 50% of the traffic on mobile networks (worldwide) in 2010, whilst it represented just 5% of the traffic in 2015.

This is not due to a substantial decrease of voice traffic but to a tremendous increase in data traffic on mobile.

The situation is similar, actually even more significant, in the fixed line domains where we have three phenomena: 

  • the number of fixed lines is shrinking in many developed Countries (in Italy the last 10 years have seen a decrease of over 25% of the number of lines) and it is not growing (significantly) in the other Countries;
  • the fixed network is carrying more and more video that for its characteristics overwhelms in terms of bytes voice (both in time, few hours of use a day versus few minutes a day, and in terms of bandwidth, few MBps vs few KBps);
  • the mobile users are off-loading traffic on fixed networks through WiFi hot spots and femtocells. According to Cisco 2016 Visual Networking Index over half of mobile traffic in 2015 was carried by the fixed network, on average over 3.9 EB (billion of billions of bytes) vs 3.7 EB carried using the mobile spectrum. Hence 2015 was the year that saw the traffic generated by mobile devices on fixed network exceeding the one carried on the mobile network.

And this growth is just the beginning. The expectation, according to Cisco, is to reach 30EB per month by 2020 of mobile traffic with an average of 1.5 mobile device per person in 2020. 

Smartphones will generate and take the lion's share of this traffic, four fifth of it in 2020.

And voice? Well, by 2020 it will drop below 0.3% of the traffic....

Author - Roberto Saracco

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