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More Devices, IP Video and Broadband Connectivity to Cause Data Traffic to Quadruple by 2016
Cisco’s (News - Alert) annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecasts the amount of data traffic that will be used worldwide, and the latest one shows a rapid growth in data traffic over the next four years. According to Cisco, that will be driven by a proliferation of connected devices, ever-increasing broadband connectivity, and greater adoption of IP video worldwide.
The data usage is forecasted to grow from 369 Exabytes of IP traffic in 2011 to approximately 1.3 zettabytes in 2016, which means the amount of data in 2016 will be more than all the IP traffic transferred between 1984 and 2012.
An increase in the total number of devices that are connected to the Internet are one factor driving the growth. The number of network connections is expected to grow from 10.3 billion in 2011 to 18.9 billion by 2016, representing nearly 2.5 connections for each person on Earth. PCs are no longer the primary device for transferring data. In 2011, PCs accounted for about 94 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, but that’s expected to fall to 81 percent by 2016.
Two reports, one from Akamai and another from Chetan Sharma (News - Alert), show that we are using more mobile data in more places. Chetan Sharma’s State of Mobile Market 2012 report found that the total global mobile data revenues were about $159 billion in 2011, with the U.S. accounting for 26 percent of the global data revenue. Mobile data will comprise around 95 percent of the global mobile traffic by 2015, and the number of mobile operators will rise to more than $1 billion in yearly data revenues in 2012.
The shift to mobile data is causing voice and messaging revenues to be replaced by services such as Skype, Nimbuzz (News - Alert), Voxer and other apps such as WhatsApp. Carriers are responding to these shifts by experimenting with newer usage plans, and raising prices.
The number of Internet users is expected to reach 3.4 billion by 2016, with ever-increasing broadband speeds increasing the average data usage among them. Cisco forecasts that the average fixed broadband speed will nearly quadruple, from 9 Mbps in 2011 to 24 Mbps in 2016.
The fastest growing traffic type will continue to be IP video, which is expected to make up 86 percent of all data traffic by 2016. Cisco forecasts that the amount of video delivered via IP will reach three trillion minutes per month in five years, which amounts to about two years (833 days) worth of video transferred every second. That growth is based on the number of IP video viewers doubling over the next five years, from 792 million viewers in 2011 to 1.5 billion by 2016.
Video online growth means the influence of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing will continue to decrease over time. Actual file-sharing is expected to grow from 4.6 exabytes per month in 2011 to 10 exabytes in 2016. However, as a percentage of data usage, P2P traffic will grow much slower than video. P2P files made up 77 percent of global consumer Internet traffic in 2011, but is forecasted to fall to about 54 percent by 2016.
The data traffic growth may be even bigger than Cisco is predicting. Cisco’s initial VNI forecast of 2007 predicted 28.4 exabytes of traffic per month in 2011, and that forecast ended up being seven percent lower.
Edited by Jamie Epstein
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