WASHINGTON Feb 5 The volume of data crossing
U.S. mobile networks will grow almost eight-fold by 2018, and
demand for Internet-connected devices will also skyrocket,
according to a report released on Wednesday that poses questions
about U.S. spectrum policy.
U.S. consumers will download and upload more data on their
smartphones in 2018 than they did on their laptops in 2013,
according to a forecast by Cisco Systems Inc. Americans
will continue to lead the world as earlier and faster converts
to new smart devices and networks, the Cisco report said.
"It's more people, more connections, faster speeds on the
networks and then more rich content, which in this case is
video, video, video," Robert Pepper, Cisco's vice president for
global technology policy, told Reuters.
Cisco, one of the leading makers of networking equipment,
studies the use and speed of devices, connections and data for
an annual forecast of mobile data traffic trends.
U.S. wireless networks will continue to experience a steep
increase in so-called machine-to-machine communications, as
Americans seek the convenience of devices that talk to each
other and the Internet, like remotely operated thermostats or
smart anti-theft sensors, according to Cisco's forecast.
Internet-linked devices will keep spreading at a fast clip,
with some 271 million connections between gadgets and the
Internet forecast for 2018 - an eight-fold jump from 35 million
in 2013 that is driven by the predicted boom in wearable devices
like activity-tracking wristband Fitbit, Pepper said.
By 2018, Cisco predicts that U.S. mobile data traffic will
reach 2.7 exabytes a month - equal to the amount of data stored
on some 675 million DVDs. In 2013, less than half an exabyte of
data crossed U.S. networks on average per month.
The findings contribute to the growing concerns in the
telecommunications industry that demand for data will soon far
exceed the networks' capacity, and connection speeds will slow.
Though some have argued that technological advancements may
prevent the crisis, wireless companies say they need more
airwaves to evade the spectrum crunch.
"If we don't add more spectrum in the long term, what it
means for cellular networks is congestion, particularly in the
peak hours and particularly in urban areas," said Mary Brown,
Cisco's director of government affairs.
The Federal Communications Commission is stepping up its
work to reshuffle ownership of airwaves, including efforts to
clear large slices of frequencies controlled by government
agencies for use by private companies and consumers.
Cisco also forecast that U.S. carriers will increasingly
rely on WiFi connections to automatically divert data traffic,
nearly two-thirds of it by 2018.
"Even as networks get more and more powerful, they're
certainly continuing to add to the amount of traffic that's
traveling over both cellular and WiFi networks," Brown said.
"We're going to need more than just technological
improvements to satisfy those demand curves. We're going to need