WiFi To Exceed Wired Traffic By 2018: Cisco Study

In a forecast that bodes well for the cable industry’s ambitious WiFi initiatives in and out of the home, WiFi traffic will exceed wired traffic for the first time by 2018, according to a new report from Cisco Systems.

By 2018, Cisco also expects high-definition video traffic to generate more traffic than standard-def for the first time.

Those predictions are just two of a report full of them, alongside many other broadband-focused insights that Cisco pulled into its latest Visual Networking Index report, which looks at recent adoption trends and what’s on the horizon between 2013 and 2018.

More on mobile broadband – WiFi and mobile-connected devices will generate 61% of IP traffic by 2018, Cisco predicted, noting that WiFi will represent 49% of traffic, cellular 12%, and fixed traffic 39% by then. In comparison, WiFi represented 41%, cellular 3%, and fixed 56% in 2013.

IP video, Cisco said, will eat up 79% of all IP traffic by 2018, up from 66% in 2013. Ultra HD, meanwhile, will account for roughly 11% of IP video traffic in four years, up from a mere 0.1% in 2013. HD video, meanwhile, will account for 52% of all IP video traffic by 2018, up from 36% in 2013.

On a broader basis, Cisco predicted that global IP traffic will grow nearly three-fold over the next four years – reaching an annual run rate of 1.6 zettabytes, or half a trillion gigabytes by 2018 -- as Internet usage and IP-capable devices proliferate and use broadband to distribute video.

Also by 2018, Cisco expects the majority of traffic to originate from devices other than a PC.

Looking ahead to this week's kickoff of the FIFA World Cup, Cisco expects the soccer-fest to generate 4.3 exabytes of Internet traffic, about three times the amount of broadband traffic generated in Brazil, the event’s host country, in a month. To put it in further context, global IP traffic is expected to reach 132 exabytes per month by 2018, which is equivalent to 5.5 billion people binge-viewing Game of Thrones season 4 via VOD in HD or 1.5 billion people watching video in UltraHD/4K, Cisco said.

On the speed front, global broadband speeds will reach 42 Mbps 2018, up from 16% at the end of 2013, and the majority of broadband connections, or 55%, will be faster than 10 Mbps by 2018, Cisco said, noting that average broadband speeds in Japan and South Korea will approach 100 Mbps by the end of 2018.