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Mobile networks will support more than a billion mobile users in MEA by 2022

By 2022, mobile traffic will represent nearly 20 percent of global IP traffic and will reach 930 exabytes annually, according to Cisco

Mobility, Networks, Smartphone, 5G, Cisco Systems Incorporated

At the inception of Cisco's Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast more than a decade ago, mobile traffic represented less than five percent of total IP traffic crossing global networks. Today, the role and reliance placed on mobile networking has dramatically increased.

There has been worldwide rise in mobile access for consumers and business users. The expanded reach and quality of mobile broadband has fostered a seemingly insatiable demand for mobile communications, media and a wide range of mobile IoT applications.

According to this year's forecast update (2017 - 2022), mobile traffic will be on the verge of reaching an annual run rate of a zettabyte by the end of the forecast period.

By 2022, mobile traffic will represent nearly 20 percent of global IP traffic and will reach 930 exabytes annually. This will equate to nearly 113 times more than all global mobile traffic generated just ten years prior, in 2012.

Mobile technologies continue to connect more people and things than ever before. In 2017, there were five billion mobile users worldwide, but over the next five years, that number will increase by half a billion to 5.5 billion users, which represents about 71 percent of the global population.

Cisco's Key Predictions for the Middle East and Africa

A sharp rise in mobile user and connection traffic

In MEA, there will be 1.0 billion (58 percent of Middle East and Africa's population) mobile users by 2022, up from 798 million in 2017.

Mobile traffic per user will reach 7,649 megabytes per month by 2022, up from 777 megabytes per month in 2016 - a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 57 percent.

Mobile traffic per mobile connection (including M2M/LPWA) will reach 4,061 megabytes per month by 2021, up from 459 megabytes per month in 2016, a CAGR of 55 percent.

Evolvement towards smarter multimedia mobile devices

In 2017, smart devices and connections accounted for 27 percent of mobile devices and connections in MEA, excluding Low Power Wide Area connections (LPWA). By 2022, Cisco anticipates an increase to 77 percent of connections.

Smart devices and connections made up 78.3 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2017. Such traffic is expected to rise to 96.1 percent by 2022.

By 2022, Cisco predicts that 20 percent of MEA's mobile connections will be 2G, whilst 54 percent will be 3G. With network providers keen to provide seamless connections, it is anticipated that 4G will account for 23 percent of 23 percent regional mobile connections and 5G - a 0.2 percent share. As more M2M and IoT devices become connected, LPWA technology is expected to make up 4 percent of mobile connections.

More mobile IoT adoption - M2M and wearables

MEA will have the second highest growth rate in terms of mobile M2M connections, with a CAGR of 31 percent between 2017 and 2022.

It is predicted that M2M traffic will grow almost ten-fold between 2017 and 2022, with a CAGR of 58 percent.

Improved mobile network and Wi-Fi speeds
In 2017, average cellular speeds in MEA were approximately 4.4 Mbps. By 2022, Cisco predicts a 10.9 Mbps increase to 15.3 Mbps.

Average Wi-Fi speeds are also expected to increase, from 6.2 Mbps in 2017 to 11.2 Mbps in 2022.

The gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross mobile networks every 31 minutes in MEA by 2022.

"Cisco is committed to helping network operators meet the growing bandwidth needs of mobile consumers, business users and the diverse collection of IoT applications," said Ali Amer, Managing Director, Global Service Provider Sales, Cisco Middle East and Africa. "As global mobile traffic approaches the zettabyte era, we believe that 5G and Wi-Fi will coexist as necessary and complementary access technologies, offering key benefits to our enterprise and service provider customers to extend their architectures. We look forward to ongoing discussions with our customers in the Middle East and Africa, preparing for this growth and mapping out their network architecture transitions."