IP Traffic Will Surpass 2 Zettabytes By 2020

Cisco Visual Networking Index forecast shows new users, IoT, and video services driving growth.

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More than one billion new Internet users and even more new devices will push annual global Internet traffic to 2.3 zettabytes by 2020, up from 870 exabytes in 2015, according to Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index.

Released today, the annual forecast report shows that the number of number of Internet users will grow to 4.1 billion in four years, up from three billion last year. With the number of personal computing devices on the rise, combined with growing machine-to-machine communications, networks will support 26.3 billion devices and connections in 2020, up from 16.3 billion in 2015, according to Cisco. In fact, the number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population, with 3.4 device per capita.

The Internet of Things is playing a growing role in driving IP traffic, the forecast shows. On a worldwide basis, M2M connections will grow to 12.2 billion in four years, up from 4.9 billion. Of all the IoT applications, the health consumer segment – apps such as health monitors, medicine dispensers, and telemedicine -- will see the fastest growth and the connected home segment will make up the largest volume of M2M connections.


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However, video services and content will continue to dominate Internet traffic, Cisco said. Internet video will make up 79% of global Internet traffic by 2020, up 64% from 2015. Video will make up 66% of business Internet traffic in four years, up from 44% last year.

And if you thought you were being watched now, brace yourself for 2020: Video surveillance is expected to grow 10-fold.

On the IPv6 front, Cisco predicts that 48% of all fixed and mobile networked devices and connections worldwide will support the protocol by 2020, up from 23% last year. By then, 34 percent of all Internet traffic will be IPv6 driven. Cisco notes that its estimate is based on the capability of devices and connections to support IPv6, and isn't a projection of active IPv6 connections. By 2020, if 60% of the IPv6-supporting devices actively connected to an IPv6 network, Cisco estimates that IPv6 traffic would make up 34% of global IP traffic.

The report also illustrates the growth of mobile networks. In 2015, devices connecting via WiFi and cellular generated 62% of Internet traffic; Cisco expects that percentage to grow to 78% by 2020.

This year's VNI forecast features the addition of DDoS analysis. Cisco said it worked with Arbor Networks to study the DDoS threat, and found that DDoS attacks can represent up to 10% of a country's total Internet traffic while they're occurring.

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