Annual Internet Traffic to Grow More Than 20 Percent by 2018

Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index forecasts an increase in annual Internet traffic of more than 20 percent by 2018, at which point global network traffic will exceed that of all previous Internet years combined. More users and devices, faster broadband speeds and an increase in video viewing is expected to expand global Internet Protocol traffic nearly three-fold over the next five years. Also, the Internet of Everything, M2M technologies and Ultra HD adoption will be key growth drivers.

streaming“Global IP traffic for fixed and mobile connections is expected to reach an annual run rate of 1.6 zettabytes – more than one and a half trillion gigabytes per year by 2018,” explains the Cisco press release. “The projected annual IP traffic for 2018 will be greater than all IP traffic that has been generated globally from 1984–2013 (1.3 zettabytes).”

The composition of traffic is also expected to change, and for the first time, the majority is predicted to originate from devices other than PCs. “Wi-Fi traffic will exceed wired traffic for the first time and HD video will generate more traffic than SD video.”

“Our first Cisco Visual Networking Index nine years ago established the zettabyte as a major milestone for global IP traffic,” said Doug Webster, Cisco’s VP of products and solutions marketing. “Today, we are firmly in the ‘Zettabyte Era’ and witnessing incredible innovations and shifts in the industry. The reality of the Internet of Everything, the increasing demand for network mobility, and the emergence of 4K video are among the key trends highlighted in this year’s forecast that represent significant opportunities for service providers today and in the immediate future.”

Cisco predicts that by 2018 there will be almost as many machine-to-machine (M2M) connections as there are people on the planet, and smart cars will include four M2M modules per vehicle.

Among the key takeaways, Cisco lists significant changes in broadband speeds: “Global broadband speeds will reach 42 Mbps by 2018, up from 16 Mbps at the end of 2013. The majority of broadband connections, estimated at 55 percent, will be faster than 10 Mbps by 2018. Average broadband speeds in Japan and South Korea will approach 100 Mbps by 2018.”