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Cable Wi-Fi Offloading To Grow: Cisco Study

Cable operators to date have used their everexpanding Wi-Fi networks as a broadband subscriber-retention tool. But a recent five-year forecast on mobile traffic trends shows that they might also have a new revenue driver on their hands.

That’s because the amount of mobile data traffic being offloaded to Wi-Fi networks will continue to rise in the years ahead as more and more video is distributed wirelessly.

About 33% of global mobile-data traffic was offloaded on Wi-Fi in 2013, and that will leap to 46% by 2018, according to Cisco Systems’ Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast.

To relieve the stress on cellular infrastructures, wireless operators are encouraging customers to offload traffic when Wi-Fi connections are present, Cisco explained.

In addition to using Wi-Fi as a broadband service sweetener, cable operator deployments of wireless hotspots are also setting the stage for new, potentially lucrative cellular backhaul services that could be marketed to mobile service carriers.

In the U.S., the “CableWiFi” roaming consortium (Comcast, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks) have collectively deployed more than 200,000 hotspots. Comcast, meanwhile, said its customers now have access to more than 1 million hotspots, a figure that includes the MSO’s public access points as well as “XfinityWiFi” signals that are being broadcast from customer-side wireless gateways.

Waxing Wireless

Global mobile traffic will reach 15.9 Exabytes per month by 2018, paving the way for an annual run rate of 190 Exabytes. (1 Exabyte is equal to 1 billion Gigabytes.)

Global mobile-data traffic from 2013 to 2018 will achieve a compound annual growth rate of 61%, outpacing the global fixed-traffic growth rate by a factor of three.

Video will make up 69% of all mobile traffic by 2018, up from 53% in 2013.

The average mobile network connection speed will jump from 1.4 Mbps last year to about 2.5 Mbps in 2018.

Source: Cisco Systems