The Zettabytes Are Coming! Internet Traffic To Be In The Zettabytes By 2016
May 30, 2012

Internet Traffic To Be In The Zettabytes By 2016

Lee Rannals for

It seems as if not too long ago when gigabyte was the term to learn, but by 2016, get ready to get comfortable with saying zettabyte.

Cisco has released its Visual Networking Index (VNI) which is intended to forecast how much data is being used around the world. The company has determined that by 2016 the global Internet population will be using 1.3 zettabytes worth of data.  A zettabyte is a one followed by 21 zeros, or a trillion gigabytes.

The amount of data being used over the Internet in 2016 is expected to reach 150 petabytes per hour, which is equivalent to 278 million people streaming an HD movie simultaneously.

Cisco's most recent VNI forecast shows that in 2011, the world used about 369 Exabytes of data while surfing the Internet.

The amount of data forecasted to be used in 2016 is more than all the IP traffic transferred between 1984 and 2012.  The increase in traffic between 2015 and 2016, 330 exabytes, is nearly equal to all the data transferred last year.

Cisco said the drive in the global Internet traffic is the increase in total number of devices connected to the World Wide Web.  The amount of connected devices is expected to grow from 10.3 billion in 2011 to 18.9 billion by 2016, which represents 2.5 connected devices per person on the planet.

According to Cisco, PC's should account for just 81 percent of the consumer Internet traffic by 2016, compared to their 94 percent stake right now.

Not only is the data from online traffic going to rise, but so is the number of people in the world that use the Internet.  By 2016, 3.4 billion people will be Internet users.

Naturally, as the Internet becomes increasingly popular, the average broadband speed will have to grow as well.  Cisco said that by 2016, the average broadband speed in the world will be 34Mbps, compared to 9 Mbps in 2011.

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 said that the amount of video delivered through IP will reach 3 trillion minutes per month in five years.

Peer-to-peer file sharing will decrease in percentage of online Internet traffic by 23 percentage points, but will increase in how much data is being exchanged.  Cisco forecasts that by 2016, file-sharing traffic will grow from 4.6 exabytes per month to 10 exabytes per month.

The highest traffic-generating countries by 2016 will be the U.S., at 22 exabytes per month, and China, at 12 exabytes per month, according to Cisco.

Consumer text messaging will increase over the next few years as well to 4.1 billion users by 2016, compared to 2.8 billion users in 2011.

"Each of us increasingly connects to the network via multiple devices in our always-on connected lifestyles," Suraj Shetty, vice president of product and solutions marketing, Cisco, said in a statement.

"Whether by video phone calls, movies on tablets, web-enabled TVs, or desktop video conferencing, the sum of our actions not only creates demand for zettabytes of bandwidth, but also dramatically changes the network requirements needed to deliver on the expectations of this ℠new normal'."