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Cisco forecasts mobile traffic will increase eight-fold by 2018

The volume of data crossing U.S. mobile networks will grow almost eight-fold by 2018, and demand for Internet-connected devices will also skyrocket, according to a report released on Wednesday that poses questions about U.S. spectrum policy, according to Reuters in an interview with Cisco.

U.S. consumers will download and upload more data on their smartphones in 2018 than they did on their laptops in 2013, according to the study and forecast by Cisco Systems Inc. Americans will continue to lead the world as earlier and faster convert to new smart devices and networks, according to the Cisco report.

What do all of this data and forecast projections signify to the consumer?

‘It's more people, more connections, faster speeds on the networks and then more rich content, which in this case is video, video, video,’ Robert Pepper, Cisco's vice president for global technology policy, told Reuters.

Two billion of the 10 billion mobile connections in 2018, Cisco said, will come from machine-to-machine communications. These include things like asset tracking devices, global positioning systems in cars and wearable computers like smart watches, personal health monitors and Glass.

Cisco based in San Diego, Ca is one of the leading makers of networking equipment, studies the use and speed of devices, connections and data for an annual forecast of mobile data traffic trends.

Americans seek the convenience of devices that talk to each other and the Internet, like remotely operated thermostats or smart anti-theft sensors, according to Cisco's forecast.

Another new culture trend is binge viewing. Binge viewing, episodic television and quality content made for the Web — the influence of companies like Netflix on the production of content, in other words — are a big reason for the growth, said Thomas Barnett of Cisco who led the study.

Internet-linked devices will keep spreading at a fast clip, with some 271 million connections between gadgets and the Internet forecast for 2018 - an eight-fold jump from 35 million in 2013 that is driven by the predicted boom in wearable devices like activity-tracking wristband Fitbit, Pepper said.

‘If we don't add more spectrum in the long term, what it means for cellular networks is congestion, particularly in the peak hours and particularly in urban areas,’ said Mary Brown, Cisco's director of government affairs.

The Federal Communications Commission is stepping up its work to reshuffle ownership of airwaves, including efforts to clear large slices of frequencies controlled by government agencies for use by private companies and consumers.

Business models are changing also to address the trends forecast. Sixty-nine percent of the mobile use, Cisco said, will be from video.

It is not just that cheaper smartphones on more advanced networks will promote use worldwide, though the share of regular mobile phones, which lack computing and multimedia capabilities, is projected to fall to 34 percent of all phones from 66 percent.

Also another factor is Glass which operates on an open android system and is growing in use. In one experiment, Mr. Barnett said, they found that a person wearing Glass queried the Internet, took pictures and video, and sent enough messages to use about seven gigabytes a month, 25 percent more than the next largest consumer in 2018, the tablet.

If Glass-like products are popular, there is another way in which they will stress wireless networks, as well. ‘All wearables are a net new connection,’ Mr. Barnett said, ‘not like smartphones replacing smartphones, or tablets replacing laptops and e-readers.’

Glass, along with Internet-connected heart monitors, smart cars and health monitors, ‘all need continuous, synchronized connections,’ said Mr. Barnett. ‘It’s not just about the traffic. It’s about the intelligence of the network.’

Google Inc. entered into a patent cross-licensing agreement with Cisco Systems Inc. This long term agreement will prevent any unnecessary patent disputes stated a Google company legal representative on Wednesday.

To view more articles on the trend in mobile traffic, please see the list below in Author’s suggestions and the video atop this article with an interview with Cisco CEO John Chambers on the trend in 2014 for the Internet.