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Mobile traffic by application category

Mobile traffic is expected to grow by 30 percent annually between 2018 and 2024. Continuing recent trends, most of this should come from video traffic.

Key findings

  • Video traffic in mobile networks is forecast to grow by around 34 percent annually up to 2024, accounting for nearly three-quarters of mobile data traffic, from about 60 percent in 2018.
  • Users are increasingly streaming and sharing video. This is expected to continue, as video is embedded in all types of online content.
  • Streaming 360-degree video and augmented/virtual reality should start to be a significant factor in mobile traffic growth as 5G is rolled out.

Video traffic in mobile networks is forecast to grow by around 34 percent annually up to 2024 to account for nearly three-quarters of mobile data traffic, from approximately 60 percent in 2018.

Mobile video traffic growth is driven by the increase of embedded video in many online applications, growth of video-on-demand (VoD) streaming services in terms of both subscribers and viewing time per subscriber, and the perpetual evolution towards higher screen resolutions on smart devices. All of these factors have been influenced by the increasing penetration of video-capable smart devices.

Social network traffic is also expected to rise 22 percent annually over the next 6 years. However, its relative share of traffic will decline from 11 percent in 2018 to around 8 percent in 2024, because of the stronger growth of video.1

Video is everywhere

Users are spending more time streaming and sharing video. This is expected to continue, as video is embedded in all types of online content. In addition, surveys of smartphone users worldwide indicate that they expect 5G to bring the network performance needed for immersive media formats and applications.2 Streaming 360-degree video and augmented/virtual reality should start to be a significant factor in mobile traffic growth while enhancing user experience as 5G is rolled out, and compatible devices are successively introduced.

Calculate the traffic impact of different application categories

Mobility Calculator

Explore the relationship between the usage of various app types and monthly traffic per subscription. Fill in app usage figures and benchmark the resulting data consumption against six pre-set data consumption profiles.

Mobile data traffic by application category per month (percent)

Main drivers for video traffic growth

  • Video part of most online content (news, ads, social media, etc.)
  • Growth of VoD services
  • Video streaming services
  • Changing user behavior - video being consumed anywhere, any time
  • Increased segment penetration, not just early adopters
  • Evolving devices with larger screens and higher resolutions
  • Increased network performance through evolved 4G deployments
  • Emerging immersive media formats and applications (HD/UHD, 360-degree video, AR, VR) 2018

1 Traffic from embedded video in web browsing and social media is included in the application category “Video”

2 Ericsson ConsumerLab, 5G consumer potential study (May 2019)