Since 2000, when the first camera phone was introduced, the number of mobile users has quintupled globally. By 2020, mobile data traffic will grow nine-fold in South Africa, at a compound annual growth rate of 55%, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2015 to 2020).
Vernon Thaver, Chief Technology Officer at Cisco South Africa, asserts that “the increasing demand for network mobility is a key trend highlighted in this year’s forecast that represents significant opportunities for South African service providers today and in the immediate future. With Africa being a mobile hub, we are beginning to realise the immense potential that a variety of mobile services can offer. South Africa’s journey to digitisation is dependent on the growth of mobile and the necessity of ensuring that high speed internet is available not only in homes and offices but also public places like shopping centres. The findings highlight that service providers in South Africa have immense opportunities to innovatively deliver a variety of mobile services and experiences to consumers and business users as the Internet of Everything (IoE) continues to take shape.”
Key highlights within the report that will impact South Africa
The smart mobile device boom
The proliferation of mobile phones, including “phablets” (a hybrid blend of smartphone and tablet features), is increasing so rapidly that more people will have mobile phones (5.4 billion) than electricity (5.3 billion), running water (3.5 billion) and cars (2.8 billion) by 2020. In South Africa, 63% of mobile connections will be ‘smart’ connections by 2020, up from 22% in 2015.
Mobile video in the age of digitisation
Mobile video will have the highest growth rate of any mobile application. In South Africa, video will be 73% of mobile data traffic by 2020, compared to 52% at the end of 2015. Consumer and business users’ demand for higher video resolution, more bandwidth, and processing speed will increase the use of 4G connected devices. 4G connectivity share is projected to surpass 2G by 2018 and 3G by 2020.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Connections and Wearable Devices Continue to Rise
M2M refers to applications that enable wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same ability (e.g., GPS/navigation, asset tracking, utility meters, security/surveillance video, healthcare monitoring, etc.) In South Africa, M2M traffic will grow 24-fold from 2015 to 2020 to account for 8% of total mobile data traffic by 2020, compared to 3% at the end of 2015.
· By 2020, M2M connections will represent 26.4 percent of mobile-connected devices—up from 7.7 percent in 2015.
· Global wearables will grow six-fold from 2015 to 2020.
Connecting the country
· In South Africa, 4G connections will grow 8-fold from 2015 to 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 50% and will account for 45.1% of total mobile data traffic by 2020, compared to 21.7% at the end of 2015.
· Globally, total Wi-Fi hotspots, including home spots, will grow 7X from 2015 (64 million) to 2020 (432 million). Globally, home spots will grow from 57 million (2015) to 423 million (2020).
“With the ever-increasing billions of people and things that are being connected, mobility is the predominant medium that’s enabling today’s global digitization transformation. Future mobile innovations in cellular, such as 5G, and Wi-Fi solutions will be needed to further address new scale requirements, security concerns, and user demands. IoT advancements will continue to fuel tangible benefits for people, businesses, and societies,” says Thaver.