Global IP Traffic to Exceed 3 Zettabytes and IoT to account for half of global and connections by 2021

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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 Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Complete Forecast. 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.

Top-level indicators include:

  • Projected increase in Internet users—from 3.3 to 4.6 billion (58% of global population);
  • Greater adoption of personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections—from 17.1 billion to 27.1 billion from 2016-2021;
  • Advances in average broadband speed—from 27.5 Mbps to 53 Mbps; and
  • More video viewing—from 73% to 82% of total IP traffic.

For the first time in the 12 years of 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 5% 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 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% CAGR). The ‘connected-car’ and ‘connected-cities’ applications will have the second-fastest growth (both 29% CAGRs).

Video will continue to dominate IP traffic and overall Internet traffic growth—representing 80% of all Internet traffic by 2021, up from 67% 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% 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 1% of global entertainment traffic.

“As global digital transformation continues to impact billions of consumers and businesses, the network 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.”

Major Milestones from the report:

Global IP will grow three-fold from 2016 to 2021:

  • Global IP traffic to reach 278 exabytes per month by 2021, up from 96 exabytes per month in 2016. Global IP traffic to reach an annual run-rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021.
  • ‘Busy hour’ Internet traffic increasing faster than average Internet traffic. Busy hour Internet traffic will grow 4.6-fold (35% CAGR) from 2016 to 2021, reaching 4.3 Pbps by 2021, compared to average Internet traffic that will grow 3.2-fold (26% CAGR) over the same period reaching 717 Tbps by 2021.

Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 73% of Internet traffic by 2021:

  • 2021 Internet access – Wi-Fi: 53%; cellular: 20%;  fixed: 27%
  • 2016 Internet access – Wi-Fi: 52%; cellular: 10%; fixed: 38%

Globally, total public Wi-Fi hotspots (including homespots) will grow 6-fold from 2016 to 2021 from 94 million in 2016 to 541.6 million by 2021:

  • Globally, total Wi-Fi homespots will grow from 85 million in 2016 to 526.2 million by 2021.
  • Leading hotspot countries: China (170 million by 2021), US (86 million by 2021), Japan (33 million by 2021) and France (30 million by 2021).

By 2021, 56% of connected flat panel TV sets will be 4K up, from 15% in 2016:

  • Installed/In-service 4K TV sets will increase from 85M in 2016 to 663M by 2021.

Cord-Cutting household traffic is 86% higher than average Internet households:

  • ’Cord-cutting’ – the trend where traditional and subscription television viewing is increasingly being supplanted by other means of video viewing, such as online and mobile video, available to viewers through fixed and mobile Internet connections.
  • A global cord-cutting household generates 117 GB per month in 2017, compared to 63 GB per month for an average Internet household.

End-User Internet traffic is moving closer to the edge:

  • Globally, 35% of Internet traffic will be carried metro-to-metro by 2021, up from 22% in 2016.
  • Globally, 23% of Internet traffic will be carried on regional backbones by 2021, up from 20% in 2016.
  • Globally, 41% of Internet traffic will traverse cross-country backbones by 2021, down from 58% in 2016.

Global enterprise SD-WAN traffic to grow enormously by 2021:

  • SD-WAN traffic will grow at a CAGR of 44% compared to 5% for traditional WAN.
  • SD-WAN will increase six-fold over forecast period, representing 25% of WAN traffic.

Average DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks size increasing to 1.2 Gbps—enough to take most organisations completely offline:

  • DDoS incidents can paralyse networks by flooding servers and network devices with traffic from multiple IP sources.
  • The peak attack size increased 60% year-over-year (YoY) and represents up to 18% of a country’s total Internet traffic while they are occurring.
  • Average DDoS attack size increased to 22%, which is relatively the same rate as Internet traffic at 29% YoY.
  • The number of DDoS attacks grew 172% in 2016 and will increase 2.5-fold to 3.1 million by 2021 globally.

Regional IP Traffic Growth:

  • Asia Pacific: 107.7 exabytes/month by 2021, 26% CAGR, 3.2-fold growth
  • North America: 85 exabytes/month by 2021, 20% CAGR, 2.5-fold growth
  • Western Europe: 37.4 exabytes/month 2021, 22% CAGR, 2.7-fold growth