By 2018 global mobile data traffic will increase 11-fold and hit an annual run rate of 190 exabytes, according to a new data forecast from Cisco.(Image: Cisco)

The report puts monthly mobile data usage at 2.6 exabytes for 2014 and predicts that usage will increase more than six-fold by 2018 when global mobile traffic climbs to 15.9 exabytes monthly.

The study attributes the growth to the rising numbers of mobile internet connections, including M2M, as well as personal devices. Cisco estimates the total will exceed 10 billion connections by 2018, nearly 1.5 times the amount of people on Earth (based on UN population predictions).

Cisco also sees the number of global mobile users increasing from 4.1 billion in 2013 to 4.9 billion in 2018, and average mobile data connection speeds will go up from 1.4 Mbps in 2013 to 2.5 Mbps by 2018.

Cisco put wearable devices in with the M2M growth driving data usage and predicted the amount of wearable devices in use will shoot up from 21.7 million in 2013 to 176.9 million in 2018.

By 2018, Cisco said the Middle East and Africa will have the highest annual growth rates for mobile data traffic. By 2018, the Asia-Pacific region will generate the most mobile data traffic monthly by a long shot, with its predicted rates of 6.72 exabytes more than double of the second-place U.S., predicted to generate 2.95 exabytes.

Monthly predictions for global mobile data traffic is actually down slightly from where Cisco put it in its 2013 forecast. A year ago, Cisco estimated monthly rates would hit 11.2 exabytes by 2017 and in this year’s forecast, the company puts monthly rates at 10.8 exabytes by 2017.