February 5, 2014

Mobile data traffic on the up

Written By Martin Sandhu

If you thought a terrabyte was taking the names for memory a bit too far, they’re getting even more interesting! A report form Cisco estimates that mobile data will grow by 11 times in the next four years, reaching 18 exabytes per month by 2018. An exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes.

If its estimations are corrected, growth in 2017 will be triple the entire mobile internet of 2013. There will be nearly 5 billion mobile users by 2018 (up from 4.1 billion in 2013) and more than 10 billion mobile-ready devices (up from 7 billion in 2013).

It’s bad enough now trying to connect to the internet at peak time in any major city, but imagine how slow it will be with such a huge increase in users! The same report predicts that speeds will almost double, from 1.4Mbps last year to 2.5Mbps in 2018, but that still doesn’t seem like enough to cope with an 11-fold increase…

This will have a huge impact on websites, it’s obviously great news as it means more internet traffic, so it’s likely to mean an increase in visitors to your website too, but speed could pose a real threat. Websites which simply offer information and contact details will perhaps not see too many issues, but those with more complex website may need to employ a separate strategy for mobile web.

Even with the introduction of 4G, loading a website full of images or third party plug-ins can take some time. As more people become savvy web-browsers expectations will only rise and page-load time will become even more essential, if that’s even possible! Reducing the size of images, both in terms of memory and dimensions will help to alleviate what will likely be a large part of the problem, but there could be others too.

Offering users a scaled down version of a website is not ideal, however when it’s a choice between that or nothing it’s something definitely worthwhile considering. Many of the bells and whistles which make a desktop website special are non-transferable when it comes to mobile, so it makes sense to scale them back – being sure not to affect the user experience.

Perhaps the most important thing in this situation is testing, understand how your website works at every speed and make allowances to ensure your users are served the best possible performing website.