Global IP traffic to exceed 3 Zettabytes by 2021: Cisco VNI

The 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 according to Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Complete Forecast.

As per Cisco VNI, the projected increase in Internet users is 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 is from 17.1 billion to 27.1 billion from 2016- 2021, average broadband speed advances is from 27.5 Mbps to 53.0 Mbps, and more video viewing is from 73 percent to 82 percent of total IP traffic.

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 says Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) study.

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.

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. 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.

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.

Yvette Kanouff, SVP and GM of Service Provider Business, Cisco said, “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 Cisco VNI Key Predictions:

  • Global IP traffic is expected to reach 278 exabytes per month by 2021. Global IP traffic is expected to reach an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021
  • Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 73 percent of Internet traffic by 2021. Wi-Fi: 53 percent; cellular: 20 percent;  fixed: 27 percent
  • 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, 56 percent of connected flat panel TV sets will be 4K up from 15 percent in 2016
  • Globally, 35 percent of Internet traffic will be carried metro-to-metro by 2021, up from 22 percent in 2016. Globally, 23 percent of Internet traffic will be carried on regional backbones (without touching cross-country backbones) by 2021, compared to 20 percent in 2016. Globally, 41 percent of Internet traffic will traverse cross-country backbones by 2021, compared to 58 percent in 2016
  • SD-WAN will increase six-fold over the forecast period and represent 25 percent of WAN traffic by 2021
  • The number of DDoS attacks grew 172 percent in 2016 and will increase 2.5-fold to 3.1 million by 2021 globally.


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