Cisco says mobile data is expected to grow by 11 times in the next four years, hitting 18 exabytes per month by 2018. An exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes.
On an annual basis, the networking giant says it expects mobile data traffic to grow by 61% annually into 2018. The extra traffic from 2017 is expected to be triple the entire mobile Internet in 2013.
Cisco estimates there will be nearly 5 billion mobile users by 2018 (up from 4.1 billion in 2013) and more than 10 billion mobile-ready devices, including machine-to-machine connections by then (up from 7 billion in 2013).
Thomas Barnett, senior director of industry thought leadership at Cisco, told Computerworld that wearable device traffic will continue to be channeled through smartphones, using the smartphone as a hub (The amount going through smartphones is now about 99%, and will drop to 87% by 2018).
"Four years ago, nobody knew the network impact of tablets, but tablet growth was significant," he said. "I would call wearables a wild card at this point."