Internet Traffic To Grow By More Than 20 Percent Thanks To Video
June 10, 2014

Internet Traffic To Grow By More Than 20 Percent Thanks To Video

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Video could account for 84 percent of all Internet traffic in the United States by 2018, up from 78 percent currently, according to a new study conducted by Cisco Systems Inc. Video will also see a jump beginning this Thursday with the start of the FIFA World Cup 2014, when millions of people are expected to view games and/or highlights via the Internet.

Cisco forecast that the World Cup is anticipated to generate 4.3 exabytes of IP traffic, which is three times the amount of monthly IP traffic currently generated by Brazil – the host nation for the international sporting event.

The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI): Global Forecast and Service Adoption for 2013 to 2018 was based upon independent analyst forecasts and real-world mobile data usage studies. It found that global IP traffic is expected to reach 132 exabytes per month by 2018, which is equal to 8.8 billion screens streaming the FIFA World Cup final game in Ultra-HD/4K at the same time; or 5.5 billion people binge-watching HBO's "Game of Thrones" Season 4 via video-on-demand (VOD) in HD or 1.5 billion watching it in Ultra-HD/4K.

That is also equal to 4.5 trillion YouTube clips or 940 quadrillion text messages!

What all this may mean is that the era of the gigabyte is over, and we shouldn't get comfortable with terabyte either. Driven by video we're approaching a time when we could hear a lot more about zettabyte, which is equal to 1,000 exabytes.

"Our first Cisco Visual Networking Index nine years ago established the zettabyte as a major milestone for global IP traffic," said Doug Webster, vice president of products and solutions, marketing, at Cisco, via a statement. "Today, we are firmly in the ‘Zettabyte Era' and witnessing incredible innovations and shifts in the industry. The reality of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the increasing demand for network mobility, and the emergence of 4K video are among the key trends highlighted in this year's forecast that represent significant opportunities for service providers today and in the immediate future."

Mobile will also be what is driving the way to this future of data. Mobile and portable devices other than PCs will account for the majority of IP traffic by 2018 – accounting for at least 57 percent of all traffic. PC-originated traffic won't slow however, and could continue at a 10 percent annual growth rate (CAGR) the researchers found.

These findings could certainly cast new light onto the on-going issue of net neutrality, which could allow telecommunications companies to prioritize some traffic – where the FCC could allow the creation of "fast lanes" for companies that pay and slower traffic for those that don't.

Already, Netflix has publicly sparred with some Internet Service Providers to ensure that its content isn't put to so-called slow lanes.

Cisco's report forecasted that by 2018, however, online connected machines could take over TVs as the fastest growing connected devices; and the report further forecast that the number of devices connected to IP networks will be nearly twice as high as the global population in 2018. Global Internet traffic in 2018 could also be equivalent to 64 times the volume of the entire global Internet reached by 2005 – and globally Internet traffic would reach 14GB per capita by 2018, up from 5GB per capita in 2013.

The study did suggest that broadband speeds have the potential to triple by 2018, as global fixed broadband speeds reach 42 Mbps, up from 16 Mbps in 2013.

What this means for the crowded broadband of the future is still very much open for debate.

"A world in which we want networks to treat all traffic the same will inhibit these connections," Jeff Campbell, Cisco's vice president of government and community relations told Reuters. "As the FCC looks at rewriting its net neutrality rules, it is important that we allow for things like managed services and specialized services that can provide new applications for consumers."