June 27, 2012 06:00 ET

New iGR Study Forecasts the Global Mobile Data Traffic Will Reach 7 Million Terabytes per Month by 2016

Mobile Data Traffic Forecast to Increase by 16 Times Between 2011 and 2016

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwire - Jun 27, 2012) - iGR's latest research forecast a 16 times growth in global mobile data traffic from 433,000 terabytes per month in 2011 to nearly 7 million terabytes per month in 2016. This forecast is for mobile data networks, including 3G and 4G LTE, but does not includes WiFi traffic offloaded from the macro network.

iGR's mobile data traffic model estimates the amount of bandwidth consumed by a given activity -- e.g., checking email, listening to streaming music or watching streaming video, checking social sites, etc. iGR has estimated the traffic generated on a per application/use basis along with a forecast for how many times in a given time period an end user engages in the given activity. iGR prepares a data traffic model for each region of the world -- North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Japan and Middle East & Africa. Inputs for the traffic model are taken from iGR's extensive end user behavior data.

"To the casual observer, it seems obvious that mobile data traffic is increasing simply due to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets," said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR, a market research consultancy focused on the wireless and mobile industry. "But the reality is that far more bandwidth is used on mobile data networks than many people believe. And we expect the situation to get worse -- the growth for mobile data traffic in all regions of the world is strong, resulting in an astronomical growth in global mobile data traffic."

To create our traffic forecast, iGR built usage profiles based on our primary and secondary consumer and enterprise research over the past several years. We divided connections into four different categories: light, medium, heavy and extreme. A connection corresponds to a device and connections can exceed subscribers. For example, a mobile worker in North America might have three devices -- a smartphone, laptop and a tablet. A consumer might have two (a smartphone and a tablet) or a mix of non-smartphone, smartphone, tablet, laptop and/or mobile hotspot.

Generally speaking, the larger the device, the more bandwidth is consumed on it. That is, a laptop connection will likely generate far more traffic than a smartphone. This is primarily because a laptop is far more conducive to heavy usage than a smartphone and is typically used in a place where the user is stationary and disposed toward consuming/generating a great deal of data traffic. That said, the advent of streaming video and audio applications (Pandora, Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Cloud Player, etc.), not to mention YouTube, makes consuming hundreds of megabytes on a smartphone quite easy. The key difference, of course, is that the laptop user could be multitasking among several different high-traffic applications whereas the smartphone user is typically only engaged in one, maybe two.

It should also be noted that seemingly minor changes in per day, week or month mobile data consumption can greatly impact average bandwidth consumption. For example, starting to watch a single streamed episode of a TV show per week on a smartphone could easily equate to an additional 350-500 MB of usage per month.

These bandwidth numbers and usage profiles were used as the baseline for the global mobile data traffic model and forecast.

iGR's new market research report, Global Mobile Data Forecast, 2011-2016: Up, up and up some more, provides detail on the expected growth of mobile data traffic for each region of the world -- North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Japan and Middle East & Africa -- from 2011 through 2016.

The following key questions are addressed in the new research study:

  • What consists of mobile data traffic?
  • What is mobile data usage like today?
  • How does mobile data usage change over the forecast period?
  • What are the drivers of mobile data traffic growth?
  • What are some differences in mobile data use by geographic region?

The information in this report will be valuable for:

  • Mobile operators
  • Mobile network equipment OEMs
  • Device OEMs
  • Content providers and distributors
  • Financial analysts and investors

The new report can be purchased and downloaded directly from iGR's website at www.iGR-inc.comAlternatively, contact Iain Gillott at (512) 263-5682 or at for additional details.

About iGR

iGR is a market strategy consultancy focused on the wireless and mobile communications industry. Founded by Iain Gillott, one of the wireless industry's leading analysts, in late 2000 as iGillottResearch, iGR is now entering its twelfth year of operation. iGR continuously researches emerging and existent technologies, technology industries, and consumer markets. We use our detailed research to offer a range of services to help companies improve their position in the marketplace, clearly define their future direction, and ultimately improve their bottom line.

iGR researches a range of wireless and mobile products and technologies, including: smartphones; tablets; mobile applications; bandwidth demand and use; small cell architectures; DAS; LTE; WiMAX; VoLTE; IMS; NFC; GSM/GPRS/UMTS/HSPA; CDMA 1x/EV-DO; iDEN; SIP; macro-, pico- and femtocells; mobile backhaul; WiFi and WiFi offload; and SIM and UICC.

A more complete profile of the company can be found at

Contact Information

  • Contact iGR
    Iain Gillott
    (512) 263-5682
    Email Contact