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Cisco: IoT traffic is taking over; 5G, WiFi 6 are ascending

News Analysis
Feb 20, 20204 mins

Cisco Internet Report prognosticates M2M, 5G, WiFi, broadband impact by 2023

Neon world networking
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If the industry needed more evidence that IoT devices and applications are taking over the world, Cisco this week said that by 2023 machine-to-machine communications will make up 50% or about 14.7 billion of all networked connections compared to 33% (6.1 billion) in 2018 and 3.1 percent in 2017.

The  M2M findings were just a part of Cisco’s annual forecast of networking trends now called the Cisco Annual Internet Report. The report replaces the Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast and looks at everything from 5G and Wi-Fi growth to broadband trends collected from actual network traffic reports and independent analyst forecasts.

On the M2M projections, Cisco stated the rapid growth is due to a variety of hot M2M applications, such as smart meters, video surveillance, healthcare monitoring, transportation and package tracking. Traffic is growing faster than the number of connections because the use of video applications on M2M connections is up, as well as other high-bandwidth, low-latency applications such as telemedicine and smart-car navigation systems.

5G will enable new IoT applications with extended reach and faster speeds. It will provide access connections for applications that require greater bandwidth and lower latencies, and that will nurture new innovations not previously possible, wrote Thomas Barnett, Director of Thought Leadership in Cisco Systems’ worldwide service provider marketing group in a blog about the report.

The report also makes some projections about network usage between now and 2023 including:

  • Average broadband speeds will rise from 46 Mbps to 110 Mbps.
  • 45% of all networked devices will be mobile-connected (3G and below, 4G, 5G or Low Power Wide Area), and 55% will be wired or connected over Wi-Fi.
  • Average global Wi-Fi connection speeds will more than triple from 30 Mbps in 2018 to 92 Mbps in 2023.
  • By 2023, the average global mobile (cellular) speed will be 43.9 Mbps, up from 13.2 Mbps in 2018 – 3.3 times faster.
  • Average global fixed-broadband speeds will more than double from 46 Mbps in 2018 to 110 Mbps in 2023.
  • Global 5G connections will be 10.6% of total mobile connections in 2023 compared to 0.0% in 2018.
  • 5G speeds will be 13 times higher than the average mobile connection by 2023.
  • Globally, there will be 29.3B networked devices by 2023, up from 18.4B in 2018.

On the WiFi 6 front, Cisco forecasts Wi-Fi 6 hotspots will grow 13-fold from 2020 through 2023 and will make up 11% of all public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Wi-Fi6 will serve as a necessary complement to 5G,” Barnett stated. “A significant portion of cellular traffic is offloaded to Wi-Fi networks to prevent congestion and degraded performance of cellular networks (due to demand).”

Public Wi-Fi enhancements will enable new partnerships and applications in hospitality/travel, healthcare, stadium venues, retail, and a host of other business verticals for personal devices and IoT connections, he said.

The study also looked at whether network and connectivity options determine whether business applications are successful or not. By 2023, there will be 299.1 billion global mobile application downloads, up from 194 billion global mobile application downloads in 2018, Cisco stated.

“IT departments are often challenged to transform infrastructures to accommodate new technologies. IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and business analytics are changing how developers build smart applications to simplify customer transactions and deliver new business insights,” Cisco stated.

“Many enterprises have adopted multicloud strategies with unified management solutions to support microservices and containerized applications at the network edge. With a wide variety of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options, it is now possible to build intelligent business platforms that seamlessly connect applications, integrate IoT solutions, and enable customizable big data analyses.”

In looking at security, Cisco found that the frequency of DDoS attacks increased 39% in the last year and that the peak attack size increased 63% year-over-year globally.  Specifically  there was a 776% growth in attacks between 100 Gbps and 400 Gbps from 2018 to 2019, and the total number of DDoS attacks will nearly double from 7.9 million in 2018 to 15.4 million by 2023, Cisco said.

“According to Cisco’s 2019 chief information security officer benchmark study, two of the top three security issues pertain to email security. Whether you are investing in protecting the move to Microsoft Office 365 or trying to better protect against Business Email Compromise using Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), email remains the number-one threat vector. The fact that two of the top 10 attacks are insider threat issues (file sharing and stolen credentials) shows that you must look at what’s happening inside as much as outside,” Cisco wrote. In addition, today’s security issues highlight the need for better Multi-Factor Authentication as a basic starting point.