Internet traffic worldwide will grow three-fold by 2017, with non-PC devices like smartphones and tablets increasingly becoming the drivers of that traffic, according to a report by Cisco Systems.
The networking giant’s annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast for 2012 to 2017 paints a picture of a rapidly growing Internet that will have more people with more devices creating more content—and more of that content being video—that will run over faster networks.
It also predicts that the Internet of Things—the network of connected devices, including machine-to-machine (M2M) connections—increasingly will have an impact on global Internet network, with both the number of devices and the amount of traffic from these devices growing quickly.
"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,” Doug Webster, vice president of product and solutions marketing at Cisco, said in a statement. “With more and more people, things, processes and data being connected in the Internet of Everything, the intelligent network and the service providers who operate them are more relevant than ever."
Internet traffic by 2017 will hit 1.4 zettabytes; by comparison, between 1984 and 2012, the Internet generated 1.2 zettabytes total. Among the key drivers of this growth are increasing numbers of Internet users and the number of network connections, according to Cisco.
By 2017, there will be about 3.6 billion Internet users, almost half of what will be the projected worldwide population of 7.6 billion people that year. By comparison, there were 2.3 billion users in 2012, or about 32 percent of the world’s population, according to Cisco’s report. There also will be more than 19 billion network connections—both fixed and mobile devices as well as M2M connections—by 2017, up from about 12 billion in 2012.
Another driver is broadband network speeds, according to the networking vendor. By 2017, the fixed broadband speed will be 3.5 times faster than in 2012, jumping from 11.3 Megabits per second to 39 Mb/s. The average speed between 2011 and 2012 grew 30 percent.
Video also is becoming a larger part of the Internet traffic story, Cisco officials said. Network users worldwide will generate 3 trillion Internet video minutes per month by 2017—about equal to 6 million years of video a month or 1.2 million video minutes every second. Globally, there will be almost 2 billion Internet video users by 2017, a jump from 1 billion last year.
The kinds of devices that will be on the networks also will change and diversify. Last year, all but 26 percent of global Internet traffic was generated by PC devices. BY 2017, non-PC devices—from tablets and smartphones to TV and M2M modules—will account for 49 percent of worldwide Internet traffic, the Cisco study says. Traffic from tablets will grow 104 percent by 2017, M2M traffic by 82 percent and smartphone traffic by 79 percent. Traffic from TVs will jump 24 percent, while PC traffic will grow 14 percent.
By 2017, devices connected to WiFi and broadband networks will account for 68 percent of Internet traffic.
The Internet of Things will become a larger factor on the Internet. The Internet of Things refers to systems—from automobile technology and IP surveillance systems to smart meters, connected appliances, sensors and health care devices—generating data that is sent over networks. Cisco officials believe the Internet of Things will be a key economic driver worldwide in the future.
"The Internet of Things, I think, will be the biggest leverage point for IT in the next 10 years, [generating] $14 trillion in profits from that one concept alone," Cisco CEO John Chambers said may 29 at the AllThingsD conference, according to news site Business Insider.
The number of M2M connections will jump from 2 billion in 2012 to 6 billion by 2017, according to Cisco’s report. Annual M2M traffic will grow 20-fold, from 197 petabytes last year to 3.9 exabytes by 2017.