What Drives Internet Traffic?

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What Drives Internet Traffic?

Guest post by Eva Enanoria.

Internet traffic is to grow more than 20 percent by 2018, according to Cisco¹.

Cisco found that the global IP traffic for fixed and mobile devices will reach an annual rate of 1.6 zettabytes, which is more than one and one half of a trillion gigabytes per year. Meantime, the annual projected traffic is expected to reach a number greater than the number it has generated globally since 1984 up to 2013, which is 1.3 zettabytes.

According to the forecast, IP traffic will come from a mixture of sources and expected to change in the next few years. On the forecast period, majority of the traffic will come from mobile devices other than desktops or personal computers, Wi-Fi traffic will also exceed that of wired for the first time and high-definition video will bring-forth more traffic as opposed to standard-definition. And with the Internet of Things gaining more momentum, Cisco predicted that there will be nearly as many M2M connections as there are people on earth in 2018. This could mean that every person may have at least one device connected via M2M. Each smart car is expected to have almost 4 M2M modules per vehicle.

How is this made possible? Imagine the millions of people viewing the FIFA World Cup 2014 games on the internet. Video streaming and IP broadcast of the event is anticipated to reach 4.3 exabytes in IP traffic. This is three times the amount of traffic generated by the host country on a monthly basis, and this does not include the internet traffic generated by approximately 60,000 stadium spectators as well as those travelling to see the games live. That, however, is only a glimpse of what is yet to come as global traffic is pegged at 132 exabytes per month by 2018. This roughly equates to 8.8 billion screens streaming FIFA World Cup game in Ultra High-definition video quality, all at the same time, plus 5.5 billion people watching Game of Thrones in HD via video-on-demand, 4.5 trillion clips on YouTube, and 940 quadrillion SMS messages.

According to Cisco, in 2013, at least 33% of IP traffic came from non-PC devices such as smart phones, tablets and the likes. In 2018, it is expected to grow 57%, while PC-generated IP traffic will grow at 10% CAGR. Other devices however, will have higher growth rates. Of course, M2M connections drives relatively high traffic at 84%.
Another driver for data traffic is IP video, which is expected to increase at 79% by 2018 from 66% in 2013. Ultimately this is due to HD video demands as illustrated on how FIFA and Game of Thrones fans all over the world crave for high-definition videos. HD video will account for 11% of total IP video traffic in 2018 from 0.1% in 2013. This also means that HD video will take about 52% of IP video traffic in 2018, while SD video will account 37% down from 64%.

Cisco also foresees an increase in Wi-Fi traffic in 2018. This may be driven by restrictions and caps on data plans and more subscribers opt to use Wi-Fi instead. in 2013, Wi-Fi took a whooping 55% on data traffic, while cellular only has 3%, and the rest went to fixed connections at 41%. However, in 2018, Wi-Fi and mobile connected devices are expected to generate 61% of IP traffic, 49% of which is from Wi-Fi, 56% from fixed connections, while only 3% is from cellular connections…

¹ Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Forecast and Service Adoption for 2013 to 2018
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