The number of mobile Internet-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth by 2016 leading to an 18-fold increase in worldwide mobile data traffic, and reaching to 10.8 exabytes per month or an annual run rate of 130 exabytes by 2016.

There will be more than 10 billion mobile Internet-connected devices in 2016, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules, that will exceed the world’s projected population at that time of 7.3 billion, revealed the findings of Cisco’s recently released Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016.

The mobile data traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 78 percent spanning the forecast period. The incremental amount of traffic being added to the mobile Internet between 2015 and 2016 alone is approximately three times the estimated size of the entire mobile Internet in 2012, states the findings.

The report said that by 2016, 60 percent of mobile users i.e. three billion people worldwide, will belong to the Gigabyte Club, each generating more than one gigabyte of mobile data traffic per month.

“By contrast, in 2011, only one-half percent of mobile users qualified. This impressive growth in mobile traffic will be driven by more powerful devices, notably smartphones and tablets, using faster networks, such as 4G and Wi-Fi, to access more applications, particularly data-intensive video, ” said Suraj Shetty, Vice President of Product and Solutions Marketing, Cisco.

Mobile devices are becoming more powerful and thus able to consume and generate more data traffic.

Tablets are a prime example of this trend generating traffic levels that will grow 62-fold from 2011 to 2016, the highest growth rate of any device category tracked in the forecast.

Faster devices and network speeds will also increase data consumption, the report predicting that mobile network speeds will increase nine fold between 2011 and 2016.

In addition, streamed content, such as cloud services and on-demand video, will continue to have an impact on mobile data traffic. Mobile cloud traffic will grow 28-fold from 2011 to 2016, a CAGR of 95 percent. By 2016, 71 percent of all mobile data traffic will be video.