Global Internet Protocol traffic will grow threefold from 2012 to 2017. So says Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index Forecast. Cisco expects global IP traffic to reach an annual run rate of 1.4 zettabytes -- that's more than a trillion gigabytes per year -- by 2017.
On a monthly basis, global IP traffic is expected to reach nearly 121 exabytes per month by 2017, up from about 44 exabytes per month in 2012. To put it into perspective, 121 exabytes is equivalent to 30 billion DVDs; or 28 trillion MP3s; or 750 quadrillion text messages.
Cisco also gave a run down on users: By 2017, there will be about 3.6 billion Internet users and more than 19 billion global network connections. Globally, the average fixed broadband speed will increase 3.5-fold from 2012 to 2017, from 11.3 Mbps to 39 Mbps.
"Cisco's VNI Forecast once again showcases the seemingly insatiable demand for bandwidth around the globe and provides insights on the architectural considerations necessary to deliver on the ever-increasing experiences being delivered," said Doug Webster, vice president of product and solutions marketing at Cisco. "With more and more people, things, processes and being connected in the Internet of Everything, the intelligent network and the service providers who operate them are more relevant than ever."
Video Content Is King
Global network users will generate 3 trillion Internet video minutes per month. That's 6 million years of video per month, or 1.2 million video minutes every second or more than two years' worth of video every second. Globally, there will be nearly 2 billion Internet video users (excluding mobile-only) by 2017, up from 1 billion Internet video users in 2012.
We asked Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, to comment on the report. He told us he considers the generational element when he looks at video.
"Video has become a lot more popular with the younger generation. We also have newer forms of video that use a lot more bandwidth," he said. "So I think that number could push 80 percent [of bandwidth used] by 2017."
Kerravala also pointed to the Internet Protocol version 6 story. The supply of numeric Internet addresses used in networking is running out under the current IPv4. IPv6 will vastly expand the supply.
Globally, Cisco said, there will be 8 billion IPv6-capable fixed and mobile devices/connections in 2017. And 42 percent of all fixed and mobile networked devices/connections will be IPv6-capable in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2012.
"We've been talking about IPv6 for more than a decade and every year was supposed to be the year of IPv6" implementation, Kerravala said. "We could surmise that we are now in the IPv6 era. Much of that has been driven by government mandates."
Internet of Things
The Cisco forecast also reveals that the "Internet of Things" -- the networked connection of physical objects -- is showing tangible growth and will have a measurable impact on global IP networks.
"Globally, M2M [machine-to-machine] connections will grow threefold, from 2 billion in 2012 to six billion by 2017," Cisco said. "Annual global M2M IP traffic will grow 20-fold over this same period -- from 197 petabytes in 2012 to 3.9 exabytes by 2017. Applications such as video surveillance, smart meters, asset and package tracking, chipped pets and livestock, digital health monitors and a host of other next-generation M2M services are driving this growth."
Kerravala said that although it's a relatively small number compared to video, "M2M is the basis for Cisco's Internet of Things vision, and we're moving into an era where more and more things are going to be connected, including cars and home devices. It's interesting to see how much M2M has posted."