Video Continues to Eat the Internet: Cisco Study

Video will account for about 82% of all global IP traffic by 2021, up from 73% in 2016, Cisco Systems concluded in its latest Visual Networking Index.  

The study, which forecasts key IP trends from 2016 to 2021, also expects to see gaming apps gain ground, rising to 4% of all global IP traffic by 2021, up from just 1% in 2016.

Back to video, the global IP networks will be pumping out 3 trillion Internet video minutes per month by 2021, equal to 5 million years of video per month, or about 1 million video minutes every second.

More than half (56%) of connected flat panel TVs will be 4K-capable and up by 2021, versus 15% in 2016, with the installed/in-service base of 4K sets set to rise from 85 million in 2016, to 663 million by 2021. Ultra HD video, meanwhile, is expected to account for 21% of global IP video traffic by 2021, compared to HD video (57%) and standard-def video (22%).

Among other notable video-related findings, Cisco said a global cord-cutting household will generated about 117 gigabytes per month  in 2017, compared to 63 GB per month for an average Internet household.

Virtual reality and augmented reality IP traffic are also set to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 82% over the five-year span of the study. Though VR and AR traffic will generate about 1.72 exabytes per month by 2021, it will represent just 1% of “entertainment” traffic, Cisco said.

Bigger picture, Cisco forecasts that Internet users will rise from 3.3 billion to 4.6 billion, or 58% of the global population, during that span, while the adoption of personal devices and machine-to-machine connections jump from 17.1 billion to 27.1 billion.

The forecast also sees global average broadband speeds rising from 27.5 Mbps in 2016, to 53 Mbps in 2021.

Total global IP traffic is also expected to reach an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021, up from 1.2 zettabytes in 2016. To provide a sense of that scope, Cisco estimates that 3.3 zettabytes is equal to 14 times all the IP traffic generated in 2010 (232 exabytes), and all the movies ever made crossing global IP networks every minutes.

On the wireless front, WiFi and mobile-connected devices will generate 73% of Internet traffic by 2021. Cisco also expects total WiFi hotspots  (including homespots) to surge from 94 million in 2016, to 541 million by 2021.