A new report out from Cisco states that before the end of this year the number of Internet-enabled smartphones and tablets in use will exceed the number of people on Earth, and that more machine-to-machine (M2M) systems will exist that use the Internet to communicate to each other without human interference. Tablets in particular are expected to grow in number by 46 percent each year over the next five years, and M2M systems will grow by 36 percent each year over the same period. Featurephones — Internet-enabled phones that can’t load third-party apps — are expected to make up most of the phone growth until 2016, when smartphones will take over.
What’s the Big Idea?
Not surprisingly, the amounts of data these devices transmit create problems for existing Internet infrastructures. Switching from the current and nearly-exhausted IPv4 system to the greatly expanded IPv6 system has been slow. Also, although 4G connections only make up 0.9 percent of all mobile connections, they already comprise 19 percent of data traffic, and as the number of 4G-enabled phones increases, the data they transmit will increase as well. The report predicts that the Middle East and Africa will experience the largest jump in data traffic, followed by the Asia/Pacific region and Latin America.