Gartner expects mobile data traffic to grow 59 percent in 2015, touching 51,820,492 TB from around 32,512,824 in 2014.
The number is expected to rise to 79,527,408 TB in 2016, registering 53 percent growth, Gartner said.
Mobile data growth will be primarily driven by newer and faster networks, a rise in the number of users of these networks, and more affordable 3G and 4G handsets, said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner.
However, the key driver of data growth on a global scale is mobile apps, particularly mobile video apps.
3G networks will continue to fuel worldwide data growth during the next five years.
With growing popularity of 4G, it is expected that half of North American mobile connections will use 4G networks in 2018, but in the Middle East and Africa 4G users will amount to only 3.5 percent of the region’s total.
On the other hand, 3G connections will grow by 45.7 percent globally in 2015. This double-digit growth shows the longevity and importance of 3G networks.
The availability of more affordable 4G handsets is also fuelling growth in data traffic. The increase in affordable 4G-enabled handsets and 4G services, which are becoming priced on par with 3G services, will collectively boost traffic.
Gartner predicts that by 2018 4G users will generate 46 percent of all mobile data traffic. This is because, by 2018, each 4G smartphone will use nearly 5.5GB of data per month, which is three times more than a 3G smartphone.
Among the data content, mobile video is by far the biggest driver of mobile data. Mobile video is generating 50 percent of all mobile data. In 2018, video streaming will account for over 60 percent of mobile data traffic.
The mobile data usage trends show that the amount of time consumers spend on the Internet, whether via mobile phone, tablet or PC, will continue to increase.
In order to leverage this market opportunity, CSPs will have to focus on creating new pricing with a focus on data access, such as shared plans. They will also need to refine the services they already provide, with a focus on creating richer, more immersive and more personalized experiences, Ekholm said.
As the mobile app market matures, app developers will have to sharpen their focus on the marketing and transparency of their apps, the research agency said.
The future will be tough for CSPs and mobile app developers that decide not to upgrade the user experiences they deliver on their services and products. The winners will be those providers best able to satisfy consumers’ demand for high data use, while maintaining their margins, according to Gartner.