By the Blouin News Technology staff

How Wi-Fi must respond to future mobile usage

by in Enterprise Tech.

Sony Xperia Z4 smartphones. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sony Xperia Z4 smartphones. Bloomberg via Getty Images

It’s no secret that mobile device adoption will increase over the foreseeable future, with billions of connected devices coming online in the next five years. Multiple research firms have predicted the continued explosion of mobile, but the data generated from all of these devices is another bag of worms. Juniper Research published a report on May 19 that delves into how the mobile data usage landscape will look through 2019, and the forecast is nothing to sniff at.

Juniper says that mobile data traffic generated by smartphones, feature phones and tablets will approach almost 197,000 petabytes by 2019. The firm notes that that data load is the equivalent to over 10 billion Blu-ray movies. The average monthly data usage by smartphone and tablet users will double over the next four years, and video usage will dominate these traffic figures. HD video usage and 4G growth will continue to spur daily media consumption by mobile users. Video dominates traffic across internet protocols (IP) as it is, currently accounting for around 60% of global IP traffic. Juniper says that in some developed markets video could exceed 70% of IP traffic in 2-3 years. Research author Nitin Bhas commented on the report: “Certainly, video is forming an ever-greater proportion of network traffic. For example, Juniper Research anticipates that video traffic over smartphones will increase by nearly 8 times between 2014 and 2019.”

This massive data usage forecast is important for internet service providers in the sense that all network operators have to think about how to support the web connections of the future. The good news from Juniper is that only 41% of the data generated by these devices will be carried over cellular networks by 2019, with the majority of mobile data traffic offloaded to Wi-Fi networks. Of course that means that Wi-Fi networks have to be prepared for this onslaught of traffic, but technologies are in motion to address the ever-growing need for web access. Advancements in wireless abound; scalable network management technologies are helping Wi-Fi networks extend to thousands of people at a given time, such as on college campuses. Small cell tech is advancing to help offload traffic in areas with dense mobile populations such as large urban areas. And in the U.S. in particular, groups are looking at how to take advantage of white spaces (unused radio spectrum) to allow for more broadband coverage.

Clearly, Wi-Fi networks have their work cut out for them. Juniper notes that they aren’t just being used to offload mobile traffic from cell networks, but are also being used to maintain call connection quality. The aforementioned technologies — small cells, white spaces, Wi-Fi extenders, and network management tools — will all play a role in the future landscape of mobile usage.