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Mobile traffic by application category

Mobile traffic is expected to grow by 27 percent annually between 2019 and 2025. Continuing recent trends, most of this will come from video traffic.

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Key findings

  • Video traffic is forecast to continue to be the main contributor to mobile traffic growth between 2019 and 2025, accounting for 76 percent of mobile traffic in 2025.
  • A number of factors will drive this increase in video consumption, including an increase in embedded video across many applications, and the rising popularity of streaming services.
  • Social traffic is also expected to rise by 20 percent, although its share of overall mobile traffic will decline.

 

Video traffic in mobile networks is forecast to grow by around 30 percent annually through 2025 to account for three-quarters of mobile data traffic, from slightly more than 60 percent in 2019.

The 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 evolution toward 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 20 percent annually over the next 6 years. However, its relative share of traffic will decline from 10 percent in 2019 to around 8 percent in 2025, because of the stronger growth of video.[1]

Immersive formats contribute to traffic growth

Users are increasingly streaming and sharing video. The most common resolution for video streamed over cellular networks has been estimated to be around 480p (varying from network to network). With smartphones and networks improving constantly, streaming HD (720p) and Full HD (1080p) video are becoming more common. More immersive media formats and applications are expected to become a significant factor contributing to mobile data traffic growth, as 5G networks will provide the performance needed for a good user experience. For example, watching an e-streaming sports event in multi-view could consume about 7GB per hour, while a high-quality AR/VR stream with a media (bit) rate of 25Mbps would consume as much as 12GB per hour.

Mobile traffic by application category per month (percent)

Main drivers for video traffic growth

  • Video part of most online content (news, ads, social media, etc.)
  • Video sharing 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 and 5G deployments
  • Emerging immersive media formats and applications (HD/UHD, 360-degree video, AR, VR)

Calculate the traffic impact of different application categories

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

Mobility Calculator

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