March 20, 2013 2 Comments
If you’re in the wireless infrastructure business, you’ve seen it many, many times. I’m talking about the predictions showing exponential mobile data traffic growth. Hardly a conference presentation goes by without seeing this graph on the first or second slide. It became customary to preface any discussion with this context, often with the idea to get people salivating at a potential windfall of profits from selling systems, software, or services. But predictions are tricky, and mobile data predictions are particularly tricky. A sober read of the facts and what’s behind the headlines is revealing.
Let’s have a look at Cisco’s latest VNI was released earlier last month. It includes a significant reduction in estimated mobile data traffic of about a third for 2012-2016 from those estimated a year ago (29% reduction for 2012). Cumulative average growth rate drops from 78% (18x) to 66% (13x) for the 5-year period ending 2016 and 2017, respectively. Mobile data growth, although still substantial, is not as high as we thought it is, and it is continuously being downgraded every passing year. Predicting data growth is tough business. Read more of this post