Cisco Visual Networking Index Predicts Global Annual IP Traffic to Exceed Three Zettabytes by 2021
IoT applications will represent more than 50 Percent of global devices and connections by 2021
San Jose, Calif., June 8, 2017—Over the next five years (2016 – 2021), global digital transformation will continue to have a significant impact on the demands and requirements of IP networks according to today’s release of the Cisco Visual Networking Index™ (VNI) Complete Forecast. Top-level indicators include the projected increase in Internet users—from 3.3 to 4.6 billion or 58 percent of the global population, greater adoption of personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections—from 17.1 billion to 27.1 billion from 2016- 2021, average broadband speed advances—from 27.5 Mbps to 53.0 Mbps, and more video viewing—from 73 percent to 82 percent of total IP traffic. Over the forecast period, global IP traffic is expected to increase three-fold reaching an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021, up from an annual run rate of 1.2 zettabytes in 2016.
For the first time in the 12 years of the forecast, M2M connections that support Internet of Things (IoT) applications are calculated to be more than half of the total 27.1 billion devices and connections and will account for five percent of global IP traffic by 2021. IoT innovations in connected home, connected healthcare, smart cars/transportation and a host of other next-generation M2M services are driving this incremental growth—a 2.4-fold increase from 5.8 billion in 2016 to 13.7 billion by 2021. With the rise of connected applications such as health monitors, medicine dispensers, and first-responder connectivity, the health vertical will be fastest-growing industry segment (30 percent CAGR). The connected car and connected cities applications will have the second-fastest growth (29 percent CAGRs respectively).
Video will continue to dominate IP traffic and overall Internet traffic growth—representing 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2021, up from 67 percent in 2016. Globally, there will be nearly 1.9 billion Internet video users (excluding mobile-only) by 2021, up from 1.4 billion in 2016. The world will reach three trillion Internet video minutes per month by 2021, which is five million years of video per month, or about one million video minutes every second.
Emerging mediums such as live Internet video will increase 15-fold and reach 13 percent of Internet video traffic by 2021—meaning more streaming of TV apps and personal live streaming on social networks. While live streaming video is reshaping today’s online entertainment patterns, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are also gaining traction. By 2021, VR/AR traffic will increase 20-fold and represent one percent of global entertainment traffic.
“As global digital transformation continues to impact billions of consumers and businesses, the network and security will be essential to support the future of the Internet,” said Yvette Kanouff, SVP and GM of Service Provider Business, Cisco. “Driving network innovation with service providers will be key for Cisco to support the needs of their customers who want reliable, secure, and high quality connected experiences.”
2017 VNI Complete Forecast Key Predictions and Major Milestones
Global IP will grow three-fold from 2016 to 2021.
Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 73 percent of Internet traffic by 2021
Globally, total public W-Fi hotspots (including homespots) will grow 6-fold from 2016 to 2021 from 94 million in 2016 to 541.6 million by 2021.
By 2021, more than half (56 percent) of connected flat panel TV sets will be 4K up from 15 percent in 2016
Cord-Cutting household traffic is 86 percent higher than average Internet households
End-User Internet traffic is moving closer to the edge—over one-third of traffic will bypass core by 2021
Global enterprise SD-WAN traffic
Average DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks size increasing steadily and approaching 1.2 Gpbs—enough to take most organizations completely offline
Regional IP Traffic Growth Details (2016 – 2021)
Cisco VNI Methodology
The Cisco VNI™ Complete Forecast for 2016 to 2021 relies upon independent analyst forecasts and real-world network usage data. Upon this foundation are layered Cisco's own estimates for global IP traffic and service adoption. A detailed methodology description is included in the complete report. Over its 12-year history, Cisco® VNI research has become a highly regarded measure of the Internet's growth. National governments, network regulators, academic researchers, telecommunications companies, technology experts and industry/business press and analysts rely on the annual study to help plan for the digital future.
Additional Supporting Resources
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 7.8 billion people by 2021, source: Population Division of the Dept. of Economic & Social Affairs of the United Nations