There will be 5.5b mobile phones by 2021; projected world population will be 7.8bn

A couple of months ago, the National Infrastructure Commission revealed that 93% of adults in the UK now own mobile phones, but on a global scale, mobile ownership is set to rise seven times by 2021.

Total number of mobile phones globally will rise to 5.5 bn by 2021, says a forecast by Cisco.

Smartphone usage is more of a norm than an exception in today's times. With the role of smartphones in our lives increasing by the day, it is but natural to assume that their sales will rise substantially in the coming years. However, a forecast published by Cisco today revealed that smartphone usage in the future will be a lot more than we could ever imagine.

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The 11th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast states that global mobile phone usage will rise seven-fold in the next four years and that as many as 5.5 billion mobile devices will cater to an estimated 7.8 billion people by 2021. Per capita mobile device usage will rise to 1.5 and the total number of mobile-connected devices, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules, in circulation will rise to 12 billion from 8 billion in 2016.

"Mobile is the way to go. Increasingly, more and more people are getting connected to the mobile technology and in fact, as per our latest findings, there are more mobile users than there are people with running water and bank accounts in many countries around the globe," said Shruti Jain, senior analyst at Cisco.

The Cisco forecast also estimates that live mobile video consumption will rise by up to 39 times between 2016 and 2021 and will constitute 5% of overall mobile video consumption, which will rise by 8.7 times from 2016 to 2021. At the same time, mobile data traffic will represent 20% of total IP traffic in 2021. Mobile network connection speeds will also increase threefold from 6.8 Mbps in 2016 to 20.4 Mbps by 2021.

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4G networks across the globe will also become the norm by 2021, with 5G network being introduced in new regions. According to the forecast, 4G will support 58 percent of total mobile connections by 2021, up from 26 percent in 2016 and will account for 79 percent of total mobile data traffic. 5G networks will have a share of 1.5% total mobile data traffic by 2021 'and will generate 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection.'

The concept of VR will also be embraced by a lot of people in the coming years. Cisco states that sales of VR headsets will grow by five times between 2016 to 2021. While there are 18 million VR headsets in use today, the number will rise to a 100 million in 2021. AR traffic will also grow from 3 petabytes/month in 2016 to 21 petabytes /month in 2021.

Mobile data traffic will grow by as much as 12 times in the  Middle East and Africa by 2021. At the same time, it will grow by 7 times in the Asia Pacific region, 6 times in Central, Western and Eastern Europe and Latin America and five times in North America.

Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2016-2021

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