The LA Timesreported on Monday that according to the latest data traffic report from Cisco Systems, in 2010 "... the amount of mobile data sent was 2.6 times what it was in 2009."
"By 2015, people will send 26 times more mobile data than they do now."
A related story in today's Sidney Morning Herald says that Cisco's Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2010 - 2015 (view full report in PDF here) indicates that in Australia, "mobile data usage is forecast to grow 32-fold from 2010 to 2015." Most of the growth is expected to come from mobile video.
The Sydney Morning Herald article notes that Australian telecoms have severely underestimated the growth in data usage, which has led to problems at Optus when the iPhone was first launched and more recently at Vodafone.
In 2009, the average Australian smartphone used 41 megabytes of data; in 2010, this grew to 119 megabytes; by 2015, it is expected to reach 1,548 megabytes.
In the US, Cisco reports that AT&T says that its traffic grew 30 times from 3rd quarter 2009 to 3rd quarter 2010, which indicates why it continues to struggle since it introduced the iPhone in 2007.
The Cisco report also shows iPhone owners currently using 355 MB per month, Android owners 209 MB per month, and Blackberry owners 104 MB per month on average. How Verizon's network is going to cope with the introduction of iPhones this month will be interesting, but it may be that the real worry for telecoms is the rapid growth in Android users more than new iPhone users.
I couldn't find any handy break-outs of average smart phones usage in the US, but this now-dated article from July 2010 in Digital Trends quoting Nielsen data reported that the average US smartphone owner used 298 MB of data per month then - up from 90 MB in 2009.
The Cisco report also says that:
"By 2015, 4 major regions (Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East) and 40 countries (including India, Indonesia, and Nigeria) will have more people with mobile network access than with access to electricity at home. The off-grid, on-net population will reach 138 million by 2015."
The report also stated that:
"The 2010 mobile data traffic growth rate was higher than anticipated. Last year's forecast projected that the growth rate would be 149 percent. This year's estimate is that global mobile data traffic grew 159 percent in 2010."
It will be interesting to see if this year's data use grows even faster than what Cisco is now predicting.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.