Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The world is going mad, mad, mad for mobile data with the amount of traffic – especially video – soaring in 2010 and projected to climb even faster in coming years.

Blame or praise smart phones, tablets, and faster networks for the boom.

So says a new mobile data traffic survey from Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Oh, and by the way, if you are a heavy smart phone user you are likely among the digital elites driving the skyrocketing demand. According to Cisco, the top 1 percent of users account for 20 percent of the traffic.

According to the networking giant, mobile traffic worldwide nearly tripled in 2010 at 260 percent. That was much higher than 149 percent forecast in growth.

This year, Cisco estimates mobile data will increase another 159 percent.

Plus, for the first time, video traffic is expected to surpass standard data. It nearly did so in 2010 at 49.8 percent of traffic, Cisco said.

Enabling the data are faster connection speeds as the world embraces mobile broadband. Download speeds more than doubled in 2010 to 215 kilobits per second compared to 101 kpbs the preceding year.

However, smart phones are connecting much faster at 1,040 kpbs compared to 625 kpbs the previous year, Cisco said.

The survey also found that the average smart phone usage more than doubled last year to 79 megabits of traffic per month from 35 MB in 2009.

It’s not all iPhones, either. According to the survey, Android phones are cutting into the iPhone margin from an Apple four-fold advantage early in the year to 1.75 by year’s end.

Plus, watch out for tablets to further increase traffic.

With iPads selling in the millions and imitators flocking onto the market, Cisco said tablet users generated five times the traffic of a smart phone users at 405 megabits per month.

However, laptops are the big data hogs with 94 million laptops connected wirelessly. Average usage was 1.7 gigabits per month, up from 1.1 GB in 2009.

Oh, and get this – Cisco points out that 48 million mobile phone users don’t even have electricity in their homes.

Read more about the survey here.

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