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Published on July 18, 2014

Brace Yourself for the Mobile Data Traffic Big Bang!

Mobile data traffic is booming. Big time. In 2013 alone, global mobile traffic grew by a whopping 81%. And that’s only a warm-up.

According to the Cisco’s Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013–2018, mobile data traffic is expected to reach the following milestones within the next 5 years:

  • Monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 15 exabytes by 2018.
  • The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population by 2014.
  • Average mobile connection speed will surpass 2 Mbps by 2016.
  • Due to increased usage on smartphones, the latter will account for 66% of mobile data traffic by 2018.
  • Monthly mobile tablet traffic will surpass 2.5 exabytes per month by 2018.
  • 4G traffic will be more than half of the total mobile traffic by 2018.
  • There will be more traffic offloaded from cellular networks (on to Wi-Fi) than on cellular networks by 2018.

In the light of this forecast, there’s one question that uncannily hangs in the air for Mobile Network Operators:

How to manage and monetize this immensity of user data handled by the networks?

Without the right solutions to tackle the arising problems, one may ponder a long time. Luckily, there are ways to tame the user data beast.

One of the primary methods to manage user data is by classifying it based on QoS needs, depending on data type or subscriber SLA. This is represented by a QoS Class Identifier (QCI). Depending on its QCI, data is given different treatment and prioritization within the network, resulting in different demand on network resources.

Certain types of data, such as voice, are highly sensitive and may require the network’s top priority, particularly if it is voice service provided by the MNO. Other types of data, such as that associated with web browsing are more tolerant of packet losses, delays, etc., and can be prioritized accordingly to place less stress on the network. The correct prioritization and resource allocation by the network based on QCI is clearly paramount to efficient use of network, while it also guarantees appropriate level of QoE for subscribers.

Another point to bear in mind is that the Policy & Charging Control (PCC) framework specified by 3GPP is becoming more and more central to the MNOs ability to monetize user plane data.

For further reading on user data management, download our free white paper: Managing and Monetizing Mobile Data: Wireless Core Testing Use Cases.

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