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Mobile traffic by application category

Video traffic in mobile networks continues to grow, driven by increased viewing time, more embedded video in other media and evolution toward higher resolutions.

Key findings

  • In 2023, video will account for around 73 percent of mobile data traffic.
  • The relative share of social networking traffic will decline over the same period, due to the stronger growth of video.
  • Streaming videos in different resolutions can greatly impact data traffic consumption.
  • Increased streaming of immersive video formats would also impact data traffic consumption.

Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 45 percent annually through 2023 to account for 73 percent of all mobile data traffic. Traffic from social networking is also expected to rise – increasing by 31 percent annually over the next 6 years. However, its relative share of traffic will decline from 12 percent in 2017 to around 8 percent in 2023, because of the stronger growth of video.

Streaming videos in different resolutions can impact data traffic consumption to a high degree. Watching HD video (720p) rather than standard resolution video (480p) typically doubles the data traffic volume, while moving to full HD (1080p) doubles it yet again.

An emerging trend with increased streaming of immersive video formats, such as 360-degree video, would also impact data traffic consumption. For example, a YouTube 360-degree video consumes four to five times as much bandwidth as a normal YouTube video at the same resolution.

The Ericsson Mobility Calculator

Along with the publication of this issue of the Ericsson Mobility Report, a new interactive web application has been launched to explore the relationship between the usage of various app types and monthly traffic per subscription. The application enables an analyst or business planner to quickly and simply see the connection between the evolution toward higher video resolutions and the growth in traffic per month per subscriber. The intention is to periodically update the app types and associated data rates alongside new insights.

Mobile data traffic by application category per month (percent)