IP traffic quadrupling by 2014: Cisco study

Visual Networking Index finds video ending P2P's 10-year traffic reign

Internet traffic will quadruple by 2014, according to Cisco and its most recent Visual Networking Index study. This finding is consistent with the general view over the years that Internet traffic doubles annually. 

Still, Cisco says the latest finding is 100 exabytes higher than the projected level in 2013, or an increase the equivalent of 10 times all the traffic traversing IP networks in 2008. 

The growth in traffic will continue to be dominated by video, Cisco notes. After all, the study is titled "Visual Networking Index." But similar to the last year's update, Cisco found that video will exceed 91% of global consumer IP traffic by 2014.  Forty-two percent of that video traffic will be 3-D and HD by 2014, with 3-D making up 4%, Cisco says. 

Meanwhile, research firm Infonetics found that worldwide revenue derived by service providers and cable companies for IPTV, cable video, and satellite video services is forecast to top $250 billion in 2014. 

The VNI focuses on the IP traffic patterns of consumers and businesses. Projections are based on Cisco's own analysis and modeling of traffic, usage, and device data from analyst sources. Cisco says it validates this with data provided by service providers worldwide. 

Two of the tools Cisco uses in its data compilation and analysis are the VNI Forecast widget and the VNI PC Pulse application. The widget provides customized views of the growth of various network traffic types around the globe, while the PC Pulse application measure the individual impact of desktop and laptop users on IP networks. 

The latter application is the source of some controversy, with some believing it gives Cisco a little too much insight into an individual's use of the Internet and IP networks. 

In any event, Cisco found that, by 2014, the amount of global IP traffic per month will be equivalent to 16 billion DVDs, 21 trillion MP3s, or 399 quadrillion text messages. Better opt for that unlimited texting plan from your wireless operator. 

The highest traffic generating regions will be North America, Asia Pacific, Western Europe and Japan. The fastest growing during the 2009-2014 forecast period are Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and Central Europe.

In terms of traffic type, Internet video will surpass global peer-to-peer traffic by the end of 2010, ending peer-to-peer's 10 year reign as the largest type of Internet traffic. By 2014, P2P will be 17% of global consumer Internet traffic, down from 36% in 2009. 

By the end of this year, over a billion users will be pumping the Internet full of video, Cisco's study found. This poses a threat to video service providers like cable, satellite and IPTV service providers. Infonetics notes that the biggest threat to revenue growth for those providers is the continued rise of online - or "over-the-top" viewing -- where consumers eliminate their monthly TV subscription by viewing streamed programming on the Internet through sites like Hulu and YouTube, and aggregating by services such as Boxee. 

So get yer popcorn ready, because by 2014 it will take more than two years to watch the amount of IP video traversing networks every second, and 72 million years to watch all the video crossing the network that year. 

And consumer IP traffic is projected to grow faster than that from businesses. For 2009, consumer IP traffic represented 79% of monthly total global IP traffic while business was 21%. That will shift to 87% and 13% by 2014, according to the VNI. 

Facilitating all of this is a dramatic increase in residential Internet access speeds over the past 10 years, the VNI found. In 2000, the average global residential Internet connection download speed was 127kbps; the current average is 4.4Mbps. 

Global IP business traffic will more than triple from 2009-2014, according to the VNI. Business video conferencing is projected to grow by an order of magnitude during that time, almost three times as fast as overall business IP traffic. 

Global mobile data traffic will increase 39 times from 2009 to 2014.

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