Last week, Cisco issued results from its annual initiative to forecast and analyze Internet Protocol (IP) networking growth, and found that by 2016, annual global IP traffic is forecast to be 1.3 zettabytes - (a zettabyte is equal to a sextillion bytes, or a trillion gigabytes). The projected increase of global IP traffic between 2015 and 2016 alone is more than 330 exabytes, which is almost equal to the total amount of global IP traffic generated in 2011 (369 exabytes).
According to Cisco (San Jose, Calif., USA), this significant level of traffic growth and service penetration is driven by a number of factors. One of the factors driving the growth is the proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, and other smart devices as well as machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, which are driving up the demand for connectivity. By 2016, the forecast projects there will be nearly 18.9 billion network connections -- almost 2.5 connections for each person on earth, -- compared with 10.3 billion in 2011.
A second factor that is driving growth has to do with the increased number of internet users. By 2016, there are expected to be 3.4 billion Internet users -- about 45% of the world's projected population according to United Nations estimates.
Cisco also believes that the faster broadband speeds will affect IP growth. According to Cisco, the average fixed broadband speed is expected to increase nearly fourfold, from 9 megabits per second (Mbps) in 2011 to 34 Mbps in 2016. Also by 2016, 1.2 million video minutes -- the equivalent of 833 days (or over two years) -- would travel the Internet every second.
Lastly, Wi-Fi growth is seen as a major factor. By 2016, over half of the world's Internet traffic is expected to come from Wi-Fi connections.
"Each of us increasingly connects to the network via multiple devices in our always-on connected lifestyles,” says Suraj Shettv, vice president of product and solutions marketing at Cisco. “Whether by video phone calls, movies on tablets, web-enabled TVs, or desktop video conferencing, the sum of our actions not only creates demand for zettabytes of bandwidth, but also dramatically changes the network requirements needed to deliver on the expectations of this 'new normal'."
On a global scale, IP traffic is expected to reach 1.3 zettabytes per year or 110 exabytes per month by 2016, nearly a fourfold increase from approximately 31 exabytes per month in 2011.
The average global IP traffic in 2016 is expected to reach 150 petabytes per hour, the equivalent of 278 million people streaming an HD movie (at an average streaming speed of 1.2 Mbps) simultaneously, says Cisco.
By 2016, the Asia Pacific region is forecast to generate the most IP traffic (40.5 exabytes per month), maintaining the top spot over North America (27.5 exabytes per month), which generated the second most amount of traffic.
The fastest-growing IP-traffic regions for the forecast period are the Middle East and Africa (58% compound annual growth rate, for 10-fold growth), and Latin America (49% CAGR, sevenfold growth). For fastest-growing IP traffic at the country level, India is expected to have the highest IP traffic growth rate with a 62% CAGR from 2011 to 2016. In a second-place tie, Brazil and South Africa both have 53% CAGRs over the forecast period.
Globally, there are expected to be 1.5 billion Internet video users by 2016, up from 792 million Internet video users in 2011.
The VNI Forecast update covers 2011-2016, and quantitatively projects the significant amount of IP traffic expected to travel public and private networks, including Internet, managed IP, and mobile data traffic generated by consumers and business users.