The latest Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecast for 2007-2012 has predicted that global Internet Protocol (IP) traffic will increase at a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46%, nearly doubling every two years. This will result in an annual bandwidth demand on the world's networks of approximately 522 exabytes2, or more than half a zettabyte!
Naturally the blame for this increased demand is being placed squarely at the feet of increased online broadband video (iPlayer, YouTube etc.), Web 2.0 social networking (Facebook, MySpace etc.) and collaboration applications usage - better known as 'Visual Networking': "The broad and increasing adoption of visual networking is having a significant impact on IP traffic growth for both consumer and business services markets worldwide," said Suraj Shetty, vice president of service provider marketing for Cisco.
"Until just a few years ago, 'exabyte' was an unheard-of term. However, because of the massive growth we're seeing, by 2012 we will have to reorient our vocabulary once again, as the metric that we need then will be the zettabyte."
In 2012, Internet video traffic alone will be 400 times the traffic carried by the U.S. Internet backbone in 2000. Representative of this trend, Internet video has jumped from 12% of the global consumer Internet traffic in 2006 to 22% in 2007. Video on demand (VoD), IPTV, peer-to-peer (P2P) video, and Internet video are forecast to account for nearly 90% of all consumer IP traffic in 2012.
Global business IP traffic is forecast to grow strongly at a CAGR of 35 percent from 2007 to 2012. Increased broadband penetration in the small-business segment and the increased adoption of advanced video communications (such as Cisco TelePresence) in the enterprise are major drivers for business IP traffic growth:
Additional key findings from the Cisco VNI Forecast include:
• Global IP traffic will reach 44 exabytes per month in 2012, compared to less than seven per month in 2007.
• By comparison, global IP traffic in 2002 was five exabytes which means that the volume of IP traffic in 2012 will be 100 times as large.
• Monthly global IP traffic in December 2012 will be 11 exabytes higher than in December 2011, a single-year increase that will exceed the amount by which traffic has increased in the eight years since 2000.
• Mobile data traffic will roughly double each year from 2008 through 2012.
Though information like this may seem alien to some, it will be important for UK ISPs, the government and industry at large to take note of just how quickly Internet usage is growing. Sadly much of the UK's existing infrastructure is ill equipped to deal with the expense and performance requirements of higher quality online video and content demands.
Like it or not, consumer trends are changing and if ISPs can not adapt due to their own economic constraints or physical network infrastructure limitations then the UK could be left out in the cold while others benefit. This is just one of several reasons why it is important for progress to be made regarding the use and installation of newer fibre optic networks (FTTC, FTTH etc.).
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