Video Will Comprise 82 Percent of All Internet Traffic by 2021

Cisco predicts that online video will be responsible for 82 percent of all consumer IP traffic in 2021, with live video expected to see the fastest rate of growth over the next four years. By comparison, video accounted for 73 percent of Internet traffic last year. Demand is coming from a range of video, including on-demand content from services such as Netflix, webcam viewing and IP VOD. Not surprisingly, Cisco forecasts the amount of bandwidth will grow as more online video is consumed and an increasing number of higher-quality videos are watched.

Cisco also notes that consumer VOD will nearly double by 2021, and cord cutters are already responsible for twice as much Internet traffic as consumers who continue to pay for television.

“Live video is set to be the fastest growing segment of Internet video thanks to new video offerings like Facebook Live, Twitter’s broadcast of live sports and live over-the-top bundles from companies like AT&T, YouTube and Hulu,” reports Recode.

Live video is “expected to grow to nearly 25 exabytes (25 billion gigabytes), about 13 percent of Internet video traffic, by 2021, up from 1.6 exabytes, or 3 percent of video traffic last year.”


According to Cisco’s 12th annual Visual Network Index forecast, there will be 4.6 billion global Internet users and 27.1 billion networked devices and connections by 2021. In North America, 89 percent of the population will be using the Internet and there will be 12.9 networked devices and connections per person (up from 7.7 in 2016). The average mobile speed will nearly double to 25 Mbps.

In addition to the video projections, the Cisco report points to continued growth in Wi-Fi, DDoS attacks and the Internet of Things.

“The trend of connected objects … continues with its quiet but growing presence,” notes TechCrunch. “Half of the 27 billion connected devices in 2021 will be IoT objects, or 13.7 billion connections. Cisco says that healthcare will be taking the lead on IoT, with growth of 30 percent annually.”

Some additional takeaways from the report’s executive summary:

  • Global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next 5 years, and will have increased 127-fold from 2005 to 2021.
  • Smartphone traffic will exceed PC traffic by 2021.
  • Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for more than 63 percent of total IP traffic by 2021.
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality traffic will increase 20-fold between 2016 and 2021, at a CAGR of 82 percent.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) traffic will carry 71 percent of all Internet traffic by 2021.
  • Business IP traffic will grow at a CAGR of 21 percent from 2016 to 2021.