The Wireless network data traffic: worldwide trends and forecasts 2015–2020

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Date: 25-Jan-2016
No. of pages: 49
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"It is an oversimplification to describe mobile data traffic growth as explosive or exponential; it is not a force of nature – growth is instead shaped by various constraints and drivers."

Wireless data traffic growth is developing in divergent ways, which reflects the differing strategic investment decisions taken by operators in different regions. This report analyses these trends, and highlights how operators' strategies and regional differences shape present and future traffic levels.

This report provides:


  • 5-year forecasts of wireless data traffic (cellular and Wi-Fi) worldwide, in eight regions and for 30 selected countries

  • analysis of the key trends in, and drivers and inhibitors of, data traffic

  • discussion of the impact of cost and pricing on data traffic

  • analysis of the trends in private and public usage, and their effect on the use of mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Wireless network data traffic: worldwide trends and forecasts 2015–2020

Table of Contents

7.Worldwide trends
8.Worldwide: 4G and emerging economies are driving traffic growth, but mobile will remain a sub-10% share of data traffic
9.Worldwide: Traffic growth in advanced LTE markets looks linear – not exponential – and may even turn into s-curves
10.Worldwide: Investment in FTTx may slow the very rapid growth in emerging markets
11.Worldwide: The value of a gigabyte is falling by about 30% per year, but the gross margin on mobile data remains very high
12.Worldwide: There is now little correlation between traffic growth and revenue growth, especially in advanced markets
13.Worldwide: Within 2 years after launch, 4G smartphones generate at least 3 times more traffic than 3G
14.Worldwide: Wi-Fi is already the default at-home network, and could become the default public indoor network
15.Worldwide: The availability of licensed spectrum will become a less important factor in determining the volume of traffic
16.Western Europe
17.Western Europe: The region is just passing the point of fastest growth
18.Western Europe: The rate of growth in traffic will slow considerably by the end of 2020
19.Central and Eastern Europe
20.Central and Eastern Europe: Deficits in fixed broadband have boosted cellular usage levels
21.Central and Eastern Europe: The region will broadly follow the rates of growth in Western Europe, but with higher MBB usage
22.Middle East and North Africa
23.Middle East and North Africa: Most of the region remains heavily reliant on mobile networks for all broadband
24.Middle East and North Africa: Outside the GCC area, underinvestment may limit traffic growth
25.Sub-Saharan Africa
26.Sub-Saharan Africa: Usage levels are strongly related to income in the region
27.Sub-Saharan Africa: Three main factors will constrain the ability of MNOs to cater for the high demand
28.Emerging Asia–Pacific
29.Emerging Asia–Pacific: Traffic in the region as a whole is growing by about 80–90% per year
30.Emerging Asia–Pacific: Very strong growth is driven largely by China catching up in average usage with comparable markets
31.Developed Asia–Pacific
32.Developed Asia–Pacific: Pricing discipline and saturation has meant subdued growth in most regional markets
33.Developed Asia–Pacific: The pattern of growth in traffic will be linear not exponential
34.North America
35.North America: US traffic growth has slowed dramatically
36.North America: It is difficult to see cellular data traffic growing more than four-fold between now and the end of the decade
37.Latin America
38.Latin America: South American markets are a little ahead of Mexico in terms of data usage
39.Latin America: Uneven income distribution will shape traffic growth in the region
40.Forecast methodology and assumptions
41.Forecast methodology and assumptions
42.Definition of geographical regions [1]
43.Definition of geographical regions [2]
44.About the authors and Analysys Mason
45.About the author
46.About Analysys Mason
47.Research from Analysys Mason
48.Consulting from Analysys Mason

List of Figures

Figure 1: Summary of report coverage
Figure 2: 4G and higher device share of traffic, worldwide, emerging and developed economies, 2013 – 2020
Figure 3: Cellular data traffic, by region, 2013–2020
Figure 4: Mobile share of total worldwide Internet traffic, 2013–2015
Figure 5: Annual growth multiples, total mobile data traffic selected advanced LTE markets, 4Q 2011–2Q 2015
Figure 6: Average usage per data SIM, normalised to 4Q 2011, selected advanced LTE markets, 4Q 2011–2Q 2015
Figure 7: Cellular data traffic, worldwide, developed economies and emerging economies, 2013–2020, Analysys Mason 2014 and 2015 forecasts
Figure 8: Data revenue per used GB, handset-only, by region, 2012–2015
Figure 9: Typical range of network and wholesale costs, and revenue sold and consumed, Western Europe, 2015
Figure 10: Mobile data traffic growth, overall retail revenue growth and data revenue growth, worldwide, 2012–2015
Figure 11: Year-on-year retail mobile revenue growth, selected advanced LTE markets, 3Q 2013–2Q 2015
Figure 12: Ratio of average 4G and average 3G smartphone usage, worldwide and selected markets
Figure 13: US device penetration and average usage, 2010– 2014
Figure 14: Smartphone users who connected to Wi-Fi by category of hotspot and the average amount of their total Wi-Fi data usage attributable to that category, Android users (n = 1211)
Figure 15: Convergence of fibre access and mobile
Figure 16: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, selected Western Europe markets, 2013–2016
Figure 17: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, selected Western Europe markets, 2014 and 2015
Figure 18: Cellular data traffic, Western Europe, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 19: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, selected Central and Eastern Europe markets, 2013–2016
Figure 20: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, selected Central and Eastern Europe markets, 2014 and 2015
Figure 21: Cellular data traffic, Central and Eastern Europe, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 22: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, selected MENA markets, 2013 – 2016
Figure 23: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, selected MENA markets, 2014 and 2015
Figure 24: Cellular data traffic, MENA, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 25: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, selected SSA markets, 2013–2016
Figure 26: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, selected SSA markets, 2014 and 2015
Figure 27: Cellular data traffic, SSA, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 28: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, selected emerging Asia-Pacific markets, 2013– 2016
Figure 29: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, selected emerging Asia-Pacific markets, 2014 and 2015
Figure 30: Cellular data traffic, emerging Asia-Pacific, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 31: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, selected developed Asia-Pacific markets, 2013–2016
Figure 32: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, developed emerging Asia-Pacific markets, 2014 and 2015
Figure 33: Cellular data traffic, developed Asia-Pacific, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 34: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, Canada and the USA, 2013–2016
Figure 35: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, Canada and the USA, 2014 and 2015
Figure 36: Cellular data traffic, North America, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 37: Annual rate of growth, cellular data traffic, selected Latin American markets, 2013–2016
Figure 38: Cellular data traffic per head of population per month, Brazil and Mexico, 2014 and 2015
Figure 39: Cellular data traffic, Latin America, by market, 2013–2020
Figure 40a: Regional breakdown used in this report
Figure 40b: Regional breakdown used in this report

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