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Live Mobile Video Traffic to Grow 39-Fold in Next Five Years

Looks like Facebook and Twitter are onto something with their aggressive investments in live video: Live video streaming on mobile devices is about to grow by 39 times in the next five years, Cisco predicted in its newest Mobile Visual Networking Index forecast.

According to the study, which was published Tuesday, worldwide mobile-based live video streaming accounted for 52 petabytes of data in 2016. By 2021, that amount of data is expected to grow to 2.02 exabytes, according to Cisco senior analyst Shruti Jain.

(If you’re not quite familiar with petabytes and exabytes: 52 petabytes equal 52 million gigabytes, while 2.02 exabytes equal 2.2 billion gigabytes.)

That’s quite a bit of growth, but live video will still only be a small part of all mobile traffic — 5 percent, to be precise. Cisco expects that mobile devices will generate a total of 587 exabytes of data in 2021, up from 87 exabytes in 2016. 78 percent of all mobile traffic will be video transmissions in 2021, according to Cisco. In 2016, that number was at 60 percent of all mobile traffic.

Cisco also predicted that mobile data traffic will grow to represent 20 percent of all internet traffic in 2021, up from just 8 percent in 2016. That’s in part to the growing number of mobile phones and other mobile devices around the world — by 2021, there will be 12 billion mobile devices in use, compared to 8 billion last year.

But the growing data usage for video and other applications will also be aided by faster connectivity. 56 percent of all mobile devices will use 4G or faster mobile data connectivity by 2021, compared to just 26 percent in 2016.

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