Everyone knows that mobile data traffic is growing fast but even the most well-informed industry insiders may be caught off guard by dramatic new findings by Cisco.

The company's Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Forecast found that worldwide mobile data traffic could hit an annual run rate of 40 exabytes by 2014, or 3.6 exabytes per month – the equivalent of 133 times all the data traffic that has ever gone over mobile networks from their onset in the 1980s to today.

"Mobile data traffic is growing faster than expected five years ago," said Cisco Senior Director of Service Provider Marketing Doug Webster in the report. "The rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, netbooks, eReaders and Web-ready video cameras as well as machine-to-machine applications like eHealth monitoring and asset tracking systems, are continuing to place unprecedented demands on mobile networks."

The report found that mobile video will represent 66 percent all mobile data traffic by 2014, increasing 66-fold from 2009 to 2014 – the highest growth rate of any mobile data application tracked in Cisco's forecast.

India is expected to have the highest country mobile data traffic growth rate of any country, with a compound annual growth rate of 222 percent for the forecast period, followed by China with a 172 percent rate and South Africa with a 156 percent rate. 

The company also found that global mobile data traffic has increased by 160 percent over the past year to 90 petabytes per month, or the equivalent of 23 million DVDs. By 2014, Cisco predicts that more than 400 million of the world's Internet users will access the network solely through a mobile connection.

Cisco's report relied upon various independent analyst forecasts as well as real-world mobile data usage studies.