The number of connected devices has been forecast to dwarf the world's population by 2016, with mobile data traffic growing to 10.8 exabytes per month.
Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index projects that mobile data traffic will grow 18-fold between 2011 and 2016, to reach an annual run rate of 130 exabytes.
This represents a CAGR of 78% between 2011 and 2016, the report states, three times the anticipated growth of fixed data traffic.
The expected growth in mobile data traffic for 2015 and 2016 alone is around three times the size of the entire mobile internet today.
In Asia-Pacific, Cisco is forecasting 21-fold growth between 2011 and 2016, a CAGR of 84%.
Growth will be led primarily by increased adoption of connected devices. Cisco predicts that there will be around 10 billion devices connected to the mobile internet in 2016, including 8 million handheld or personal devices and 2 billion M2M connections. This compares to a projected global population of 7.3 billion.
Accelerating adoption of on-demand and streaming content is also expected to stimulate a 28-fold increase in mobile cloud traffic by this time, a five-year CAGR of 95%.
Operators are already starting to respond to the data explosion by offloading traffic onto Wi-Fi or fixed networks, and this trend is expected to continue in the future.
Cisco predicts that 3.1 exabytes worth of mobile data traffic will be offloaded per month by 2016, up from 72 petabytes per month in 2011.