This week Cisco released it’s yearly VNI (Virtual Networking Index) update and the numbers are clear: Wi-Fi continues to grow as the world’s preferred wireless technology. We’ve selected some of the Wi-Fi highlights of the latest Cisco VNI forecast here:
By 2021 Wi-Fi will carry 49% of total global IP traffic
In comparison mobile will carry about 17%, which means Wi-Fi will carry three times as much data as mobile by 2021. Meanwhile, fixed access will carry 33% by 2021 and Wi-Fi will exceed the fixed proportion of total IP traffic already in 2018.
Note that 5G traffic will represent only a negligible 1.5% of the total mobile traffic by 2021, meaning 1.5% of mobile’s 17% of total global IP traffic share or about 0.25% in total.
The CAGR for Wi-Fi traffic on mobile devices will be 57%
In the same period mobile traffic will grow at 51% CAGR, which means that Wi-Fi traffic growth will continue to outpace mobile. This is likely driven by the demand for video, better & faster Wi-Fi standards (such as AC and AX), and growth in the installed base of Wi-Fi access points in the home, the enterprise, and in public locations.
Mobile devices will offload 63% of traffic to Wi-Fi in 2021
Offload rates have been high for a long time and show no signs of abating. Note also that local offload rates can be much higher, as previously reported by other sources. In some markets, offload rates are already today higher than 70% or even close to 80%.
Note that Cisco does not discriminate between operator initiated offload and user or device initiated offload. By far most offload today is user or device initiated because devices in nearly all cases will prefer Wi-Fi to mobile once a Wi-Fi network has been defined on the device.
Average Wi-Fi speed to dual-mode devices will reach 32 Mbps in 2021
In other words: Wi-Fi will on average offer nearly twice the speed of mobile by 2021 (mobile speeds will reach 18.2 Mbps). Peak Wi-Fi rates to some mobile devices (such as iPhone 7) already today exceed 300 Mbps.
Public hotspots will grow six-fold to 541 million by 2021
This huge number is largely the result of public access ‘homespots’ having become standard practice among cablecos and ISPs over the past couple of years. The massive presence of homespots is also laying the groundwork for effective Wi-Fi First-type services to take hold in 2017.
Public hotspots excluding homespots will nearly double
The number of non-homespot public hotspots will grow from 8.8 million in 2016 to 15.3 million in 2021. Much of this can be attributed to continued growth in Wi-Fi for the public-facing enterprise (retail, hospitality, etc.) and the recent strong growth in city or municipal free (or freemium) Wi-Fi.
4G never killed off Wi-Fi. And 5G won’t make a dent in the market for many years still
Finally: If you’ve been working in wireless since before the 4G era, you may remember that it has often been claimed that 4G would kill off Wi-Fi. Actually, the opposite is true. As it turns out, the proportion of Wi-Fi traffic on 4G devices is much higher than that of previous mobile generations.
And – at least for now – you can forget about 5G making a dent in mobile or IP traffic of any kind. This Cisco VNI is not exactly bullish on 5G.
Source: Cisco VNI 2017.