Cisco's VNI: More, more, more!

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) has unveiled the latest edition of its annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast. Not surprisingly, it predicts that Internet use will continue to explode, almost everyone will go mobile, and they’ll watch video while they do it.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) has unveiled the latest edition of its annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast. Not surprisingly, it predicts that Internet use will continue to explode, almost everyone will go mobile, and they’ll watch video while they do it.

This edition of the VNI Forecast covers 2011 through 2016. As with the previous VNI Forecasts, the report offers Cisco’s take on Internet Protocol (IP) networking growth and trends worldwide. New this year is a complementary study, the Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast, which includes global and regional residential, consumer mobile, and business services growth rates.

Cisco forecasts that annual global IP traffic will reach 1.3 zettabytes by 2016. It will reach this figure by growing sequentially from 2015 by more than 330 exabytes, which is almost equal to the amount of IP traffic generated globally in 2011 (369 exabytes).

Factors that will drive this growth include:

  • More devices: By 2016, the forecast projects there will be nearly 18.9 billion network connections -- almost 2.5 connections for each person on earth, -- compared with 10.3 billion in 2011.
  • More Internet users: By 2016, there are expected to be 3.4 billion Internet users -- about 45 percent of the world's projected population according to United Nations estimates.
  • Faster broadband speeds: The average fixed broadband speed is expected to increase nearly four-fold, from 9 Mbps in 2011 to 34 Mbps in 2016.
  • More video: By 2016, 1.2 million video minutes will traverse the Internet each second.
  • Wi-Fi growth: By 2016, over half of the world's Internet traffic is expected to come from Wi-Fi connections.

Alongside the Wi-Fi prediction, Cisco expects global mobile Internet data traffic will increase 18X from 2011 to 2016, to 10.8 exabytes per month (130 exabytes annually). However, fixed broadband will still have a role to play, Cisco forecasts. The number of residential Internet users with fixed Internet access will nearly double between 2011 and 2015, rising from 1.7 billion to 2.3 billion, according to the VNI Forecast. Similarly, while the amount of consumer Internet traffic generated by PCs will drop over the forecast period by 13 percentage points, it will still reside at 81%, Cisco says.

Regardless of how users access content, much of that content will be video, according to the forecast. For example:

  • Cisco expects 1.5 billion Internet video users worldwide by 2016, up from 792 million Internet video users in 2011.
  • Global advanced video traffic, including 3-D and HDTV, is projected to increase 5X between 2011 and 2016.
  • Mobile video will be the fastest-growing consumer mobile service globally, jumping from 271 million users in 2011 to 1.6 billion users in 2016.

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