According to the 10th annual Cisco® Visual Networking Index™ (VNI) Forecast, annual Internet Protocol (IP) traffic will triple between 2014 and 2019, when it will reach a record 2 zettabytes.
Factors expected to drive traffic growth include global increases in Internet users, personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, faster broadband speeds, and the adoption of advanced video services.
Collectively, these variables are expected to create a global IP traffic compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 percent – the first global CAGR increase in consecutive VNI forecasts in nearly a decade (e.g., last year’s projected CAGR for 2013 – 2018 was 21 percent).
Key Global IP Traffic and Service Predictions
Cisco predicts that global IP traffic will reach 168 exabytes per month by 2019, up from 59.9 exabytes per month in 2014. In 2019, nearly as much traffic will traverse global IP networks than all prior “Internet years” combined (from 1984 to the end of 2013).
Several elements will shape IP traffic in the coming years:
- More Internet Users – As fixed and mobile networks grow and expand, more people will have network and Internet access. In 2014, there were 2.8 billion Internet users, or 39 percent of the world’s population of 7.2 billion. By 2019, there will be about 3.9 billion Internet users, or 51 percent of the world’s projected population of 7.6 billion (Source: Population Division of the Dept. of Economic & Social Affairs of the United Nations).
- Proliferation of Devices and Connections – With 24 billion networked devices/connections expected online by 2019, compared with 14 billion in 2014, service provider networks must adapt to an influx of sophisticated devices. These devices include tablets, smartphones, and Internet-enabled ultra-high definition (UHD) TVs, as well as M2M connections and wearables (including new smart watches, health monitors, etc.). Globally, there will be 3.2 networked devices/connections per capita by 2019, up from 2 per capita in 2014. These advanced devices and connections will need to be authenticated to gain access to fixed and mobile networks, which require enhanced intelligence, network management and security. A comprehensive IPv6 strategy will be imperative for carriers to accommodate the volume and complexity of next-generation devices and connections. Globally, 41 percent of all fixed and mobile networked devices/connections will be IPv6-capable by 2019, up from 22 percent in 2014.
- Faster Fixed Broadband Speeds – Globally, the average fixed broadband speed will increase two-fold from 20.3 Mbps in 2014 to 42.5 Mbps in 2019. Year-over-year, the average global fixed broadband speed grew 26 percent from 16 Mbps in 2013 to 20.3 Mbps in 2014. From a regional perspective, Western Europe and Asia Pacific continue to lead the world in fixed broadband network speeds. North America and other regions are also updating their network resources to accommodate more bandwidth-intensive content and applications (e.g., UHD video). By 2019, 33 percent of all global fixed broadband connections will be faster than 25 Mbps, up from 29 percent today (mobile network speeds are covered in the February 2015 VNI Mobile report).
- New and Advanced Video Services – IP video will account for 80 percent of all IP traffic by 2019, up from 67 percent in 2014. The evolution of advanced video services (e.g., UHD and spherical/360 video) and increasingly video centric M2M applications are anticipated to 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, making quality, convenience, content/experience and price key success factors.
- Mobility Momentum – By 2019, more than 14 percent of monthly IP traffic will derive from cellular connections, and 53 percent of monthly IP traffic will come from Wi-Fi connections globally, making differentiated and monetizable mobile strategies more important for all service providers.
- Wi-Fi and mobile connected devices will generate 67 percent of IP traffic by 2019 – Wi-Fi: 53 percent and cellular: 14 percent – compared with fixed traffic, which will account for 33 percent of overall traffic.
- In 2014, fixed traffic accounted for 54 percent of IP traffic, while Wi-Fi accounted for 42 percent and cellular 4 percent.
- The Internet of Everything (IoE) and M2M Growth:
The IoE trend is showing tangible growth as M2M connections will more than triple over the next five years (growing to 10.5 billion by 2019). There will be significant IoE adoption across many business verticals (e.g., agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and transportation) as well as connected home deployments (i.e., video security, smart meters, lighting/temperature control, etc.).
- Connected Health consumer segment will represent the fastest M2M connections growth at 8.6-fold (54 percent CAGR) from 2014 to 2019;
- Connected home segment will represent nearly half (48 percent) of M2M connections by 2019.
- Annual global M2M IP traffic will grow 15-fold over this same period – from 308 petabytes in 2014 (0.5 percent of global IP traffic) to 4.6 exabytes by 2019 (2.7 percent of global IP traffic).
- Gaming Impact – Cisco predicts a marked increase in network traffic associated with game downloads driven by availability of storage capacity on gaming consoles, an increase in upstream cloud traffic, and increasing fiber connections.
- Advanced Service Adoption – Online music will be the fastest-growing residential Internet service with a CAGR of 7.7 percent from 2014-2019, growing from 1.2 billion users to 1.7 billion users by 2019. Mobile location-based service (LBS) will be the fastest growing consumer mobile service with a CAGR of 27.5 percent from 2014-19, growing from 597 million users in 2014 to over 2 billion users by 2019. Desktop and personal videoconferencing will be the fastest growing business Internet service with a CAGR of 23.5 percent from 2014-2019, growing from 76 million users in 2014 to 220 million users by 2019.
Cisco® VNI Forecast Implications for Service Providers
- Due to the increasing number of devices (e.g., tablets, smartphones and M2M connections) that will need to be authenticated to gain access to fixed/mobile networks (enhanced security and intelligence required), increased bandwidth capacity is not the only requirement in the next half decade.
- The evolution of advanced video services (e.g., HD/ultra HD video, spherical video) and M2M applications are expected to create new bandwidth and scalability requirements for SPs. Residential, business and mobile consumers continue to have strong demand for advanced video services across all network and device types (quality, convenience, and price are key factors for success).
- Continued business video adoption (i.e., HD and web-based video conferencing and business VoD) may prompt greater growth in network virtualization and leveraging the Internet for video transmission (network ramifications for SPs/OTTPs).
- By 2019, more than 14% of monthly global IP traffic will come from cellular connections and 53% of monthly IP traffic will come from Wi-Fi connections (i.e., more than two-thirds or 67% of total monthly IP traffic). Differentiated and monetizable mobile strategies will be important for all SPs.
- IP networks must be intelligent and flexible enough to support the constant introduction of new/updated applications for fixed and mobile networks. Many SPs are actively collaborating with application and content developers to differentiate their services.
Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Products and Solutions Marketing, Cisco:
“It took 32 years – from 1984 to 2016 – to generate the first zettabyte of IP traffic annually. However, as this year’s Visual Networking Index forecasts, it will take only three additional years to reach the next zettabyte milestone when there will be more than 2 zettabytes of IP Traffic annually by 2019.”
“As consumers, businesses and societies alike head towards the Digital Era with the Internet of Everything gaining momentum, VNI is even more relevant now in its 10th year than it was in its first. For our customers and the industry ecosystem as whole, we look forward to continuing to report on these trends, the challenges they bring, and the immense opportunities ahead.”