Internet traffic explosion in 2017, Cisco says

According to Cisco‘s seventh annual Visual Networking Index, global IP traffic will rise at a dramatic compound annual growth rate of 23 percent between 2012 to 2017, representing a three-fold increase from the start to the end of the forecast period.


This rate won’t continue, says Robert Pepper, Cisco global technology policy vice president. But it will be a dramatic spurt; he said the amount of global traffic in 2017 will amount to 1.4 zettabytes (ZBs), which is larger than the history of the Internet from 1984 to 2012 (1.2ZB).

Pepper said four drivers are behind this: more users; users connecting more devices; growing network and broadband speeds; and more media-rich content.

Number crunching

Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) highlights that in 2017 and 2018, half of the world’s population will be online, with Asia-Pacific (APAC) trailing the average with 46 percent. The growing adoption of Internet use is mirroring the adoption of the mobile phone.

Average Internet speeds are on the rise. Cisco predicts mobile connections will reach 8Mbps in 2017, with average Wi-Fi speeds from mobile devices forecast to reach 30Mbps.

By 2017, an even wider variety of devices will be connected to the Internet. They will include not only today’s smartphone, tablet, and PC, but extend to machine to machine (M2M) products, such as fitness wristbands.

The hot spots

According to Pepper, a key takeaway from this year’s VNI is the divide between peak hour and average network traffic. For example, in Australia, where he gave his presentation, peak traffic is 3.5 times greater than the average, and is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24 percent, compared to the 18 per cent CAGR of the average.

This is creating somewhat of a “prime time of the Internet” between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., mirroring the habits of television viewership. This consumption model is being driven by video.

Another significant takeaway is the dramatic growth in M2M devices; Cisco forecasts this category to grow 11 percent CAGR, and expects that by 2017, M2M and handsets will make up 77 percent of the devices.

This three-fold incremental growth will see 8 billion devices connected M2M by 2017, with traffic on them to grow 20 times, not including products using RFID chips.

Cisco credits this proliferation in M2M is a result of the rise of IPv6-capable connections, in combination with IPv6-capable devices, and content providers’ capability to support it.