Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 55% annually through 2021, when it should account for over two-thirds of all mobile data traffic, according to research from Ericsson.
While social networking is forecast to grow by 41% annually over the coming six years, its relative share of traffic will decline from 15% in 2015 to around 10% in 2021, as a result of the stronger growth in the video category.
The rest of the application categories have annual growth rates ranging from 19 to 37%, so are shrinking in proportion to the whole. The trend is accentuated by the growing use of embedded video in social media and web pages, which is considered video traffic in this context.
The emergence of new applications can shift the relative volumes of different types of traffic, but the proliferation of different sized smart devices will also affect the traffic mix – for example, tablets are associated with a higher share of online video traffic than smartphones. Typically, tablets and smartphones are used equally for watching short video content, but tablets are used more for watching longer video content.
Significant increase of video traffic shares on smartphones and tablets
Average values from measurements in a selected number of commercial HSPA and LTE networks in Asia, Europe and the Americas show that regardless of device type, video is the largest contributor to traffic volumes (40–55%).
However, there is a large variation between networks. YouTube still dominates video traffic in most mobile networks and accounts for between 50–70% of total video traffic for almost all measured networks, regardless of terminal type. In markets where Netflix has launched services, its share of video traffic can reach 10–20% of total mobile video traffic.
For smartphones, social networking is the second largest traffic volume contributor, with an average share of 20% in measured networks. There has been a steady increase in the share of social networking traffic on smartphones, as well as an increased share of video traffic on smartphones and tablets in recent years.
File sharing is more prominent on mobile PCs than on other devices, constituting around 10 percent of traffic. The very small part of file sharing that is associated with smartphones and tablets comes predominantly from tethering traffic.
The share of traditional web browsing traffic shows a decreasing trend on all three types of devices.