Video, mobile and Wi-Fi traffic will drive exponential growth in the data carried over worldwide networks by 2016, according to Cisco Systems Inc.’s latest Visual Networking Index report.
In Canada, the study projects tremendous growth in Internet and IP traffic by 2016, with both roughly tripling in volume.
Cisco expects Canadian IP traffic to grow to 2.8 exabytes a month that year, while Internet traffic will reach 2.0 exabytes. Worldwide, the year 2016 will see a staggering 1.3 zetabytes of data cross IP networks.
“Just to give you a sense of that volume,” says Ariella Sumits, a senior analyst at Cisco, “if you look at the total amount of traffic that has crossed IP networks globally to date, since 1984, it’s about 1.2 zetabytes. So, in 2016, the amount of traffic that crossed networks just in that year will exceed everything that’s crossed the networks to date.”
Enterprises are also expected to use IP video conferencing more and more (six times more traffic by 2016 compared to 2011), especially Web-based video conferencing, which is expected to grow to 71.7 per cent of the total in 2016 (from 60.9 per cent in 2011). Overall, traffic is responsible for much of the increased flow of data worldwide.
“One of the key things that we found was that no matter what segment we look at: business, or residential or mobile, the highest growth categories are video categories,” Sumits said.
Internet video is seeing higher adoption in Canada than it is south of the border, she added, ”which is always surprising to people in the U.S., but it’s actually been that way for some time.”
Dave Pearson, research manager for enterprise storage and networking at IDC Canada Inc., said the increased video traffic will create “both headaches and opportunities” in the future. “Streaming video is very bandwidth intensive, forcing investments in IP networks, WAN performance, video optimization, and mobile broadband,” he said.
As for the discrepancy between Canadian and American use of Internet video, IDC Canada analyst Marlene Graham speculated it might be due to a slightly higher user base of cable and satellite services in Canada. “Because these service providers also offer internet services, I would suggest that could explain some part of the difference,” she said.
Something else to watch, according to the study, will be the growth of Wi-Fi versus traditional wired networks. Sumits said 2015 will be a “milestone year” when Wi-Fi traffic reaches parity with wired traffic. By 2016, it will begin to exceed it.
Perhaps the most striking number in the report is the growth of enterprise mobile traffic in Canada, which is predicted to increase 12-fold by 2016. However, this number may include consumer traffic going through businesses as well since Cisco links the data volume to the entity paying for the line, Sumits said.
Bigger pipelines will be available to carry this increased volume of traffic. The average broadband speed in Canada will grow roughly by a factor of three (from 10.2 Mbps to 30 Mbps) while it will increase 3.8 times worldwide (from 9.1 Mbps to 34 Mbps).
Cisco also predicts that the number of IPv6-capable business devices will grow to one billion by 2016, up from a mere 91 million in 2011.