A New Era for Internet Traffic of Everything

— June 12, 2014

A zettabyte is not amuse-bouche delivered by before dinner, but 1.6 of them equal more than one and a half trillion gigabytes, and make up the projected annual Internet traffic by 2018, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index. This is nearly three-fold over the next five years due to more Internet users and devices, faster broadband speeds and more video viewing.
 
PCs lose again, as the majority of traffic will originate from other devices for the first time in the history of the Internet. Wi-Fi traffic will also exceed wired traffic for the first time. By 2018 there will be nearly as many machine-to-machine (M2M) connections as there are people on earth. Smart cars will have nearly four M2M modules per car.
 
"Our first Cisco Visual Networking Index nine years ago established the zettabyte as a major milestone for global IP traffic. Today, we are firmly in the ‘Zettabyte Era' and witnessing incredible innovations and shifts in the industry. The reality of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the increasing demand for network mobility, and the emergence of 4K video are among the key trends highlighted in this year's forecast that represent significant opportunities for service providers today and in the immediate future," said Doug Webster, Vice President of Products and Solutions Marketing, Cisco.
 
IP Traffic
In 2013, 33% of IP traffic originated with non-PC devices, however, by 2018, the non-PC share of IP traffic will grow to 57%. PC-originated traffic will grow at a 10% CAGR, while other devices/connections will have higher traffic growth rates over the forecast period including TVs (18%), tablets (74%), smartphones (64%) and M2M connections (84%).
 
“Busy-hour” (a 60-minute period with the maximum total traffic load in a given 24-hour period ) Internet traffic increased 32% in 2013, compared to 25% growth in average Internet traffic. Traffic originating in metro networks surpassed traffic traversing long-haul links in 2013. Metro traffic will grow nearly twice as fast as long-haul traffic from 2013 to 2018. This growth is due in part to content delivery networks, which will carry more than half of total Internet traffic by 2018.
 
IP video will be 79% of all IP traffic by 2018, up from 66% in 2013.
 
Access Type   
Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 76% of Internet traffic by 2018 Wi-Fi will be 61% and cellular will be 15%. Fixed traffic will be only 24% of total Internet traffic by 2018. In comparison, Wi-Fi was 55%; cellular was 4%; and fixed was 41% in 2013.
 
Devices/Connections
By 2018, there will be nearly 21 billion global network connections (fixed/mobile personal devices, M2M connections, et al.), up from about 12.4 billion connections in 2013. There will be 2.7 networked devices/connections globally per capita by 2018, up from 1.7 per capita in 2013.There will be 7.3 billion M2M connections globally, or nearly one M2M connection per capita, based on a 7.6 billon population by 2018.There will be 10 billion IPv6-capable fixed and mobile devices in 2018, up from 2 billion in 2013.
 
Speed & Service
Global broadband speeds will reach 42 Mbps by 2018, up from 16 Mbps at the end of 2013.The majority of broadband connections, estimated at 55%, will be faster than 10 Mbps by 2018.
 
Mobile location-based services will be the fastest growing consumer mobile service with a CAGR of 36% from 2013 to 2018, growing from 236 million users in 2013 to more than 1 billion users by 2018. Desktop and personal videoconferencing will be the fastest growing business Internet service with a CAGR of 45% from 2013 to 2018, growing from 37 million users in 2013 to 238 million users by 2018.
 
Implications for Service Providers
Service provider networks must adapt to the increasing number of devices, such as tablets, smartphones and M2M connections, that will need to be authenticated to access fixed/mobile networks with enhanced security and service prioritization.
 
The evolution of advanced video services, such as HD/ultra HD video, may create new bandwidth and scalability requirements for service providers. Residential, business and mobile consumers continue to have strong demand for advanced video services across all network and device types with quality of service, convenience, and price as key factors for success.
 
Continued business video adoption, such as HD and web-based video conferencing and business VoD may prompt greater growth in network virtualization and leveraging the Internet for video transmission with network ramifications for service providers and over-the-top providers.
 
4G network growth and service adoption may grow faster as mobile users continue to demand similar service and content experiences from their fixed and mobile networks. Wi-Fi is going to become increasingly important in providing offload for mobile devices and connectivity for a growing array of portable devices and M2M connections.
 
IP networks must be intelligent and flexible enough to support the constant introduction of new/updated applications for fixed and mobile networks. Many service providers are actively collaborating with application developers to differentiate their services.

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