Cisco predicts that traffic on the world’s networks will increase 46 percent from 2007 to 2012, nearly doubling every two years. Given the rise in usage by new economies around the world, it’s a forecast that makes sense. Continue Reading.

Cisco Systems, the San Jose, Calif.-based company that makes a living selling plumbing for the Internet (amongst other things), has come out with a prediction: Traffic on the world’s networks will increase (annually) 46 percent from 2007 to 2012, nearly doubling every two years. As a result, there will be an annual bandwidth demand of approximately 522 exabytes2, or more than half a zettabyte.

If these kinds of predictions remind you of the wild-and-wooly claims made by folks like MCI and WorldCom in the early days of Internet 1.0, relax –- these numbers aren’t that bad. And I would normally douse them with the cold water of skepticism, except that my dear friend, Andrew Odlyzko, who was the first one to spot the con in WorldCon’s traffic bunkum and has been tracking the growth of Internet traffic, says he expects, overall, an annual growth rate of some 50 percent to 60 percent.

That’s why I’m happy to take Cisco’s study and its newly announced Visual Networking Index (VNI) seriously. Cisco’s data is actually important to note, especially in the light of the recent tiered/metered broadband moves by U.S. carriers and their demagogy about bandwidth consumption.

Anyway, some interesting findings from Cisco include:

  • Global IP traffic will reach 44 exabytes per month in 2012, compared to less than seven per month in 2007. In 2002, global IP traffic 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. U.S. will surpass Japan in mobile traffic in 2009. (I guess thanks to the iPhone.)
  • 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 to 22 percent of the global consumer Internet traffic in 2007 from 12 percent in 2006. Video-on-demand, IPTV, peer-to-peer (P2P) video, and Internet video are forecast to account for nearly 90 percent of all consumer IP traffic in 2012.

My own observation with regards to all these developments is the continuous contribution of new economies -– China, Brazil, Russia, India, Eastern Europe and the new Nordic nations. A growing number of subscribers and their usage of broadband and mobile broadband is slowly pushing up the demand for bandwidth, which has lead to a huge spurt in the traffic on regional and international backbones. New fiber construction to support the growth in traffic also bolsters Cisco’s claims.

China has already passed the U.S. as the world’s largest broadband and mobile market. India is getting there. VeriSign, a Mountain View, Calif.-based company that’s a major player in business domain names, notes that India now has about 41 million Internet users, making it the eight-largest Internet country. Cisco notes that Internet traffic is growing fastest in Latin America, followed by Western Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and says that’s likely to be the case through 2012. It kind of makes sense — after years and years of U.S. domination, Internet traffic is beginning to act in a more global fashion.

  1. Internet Traffic to Boom Monday, June 16, 2008

    [...] more, check out GigaOm, which suggests Cisco’s forecasts look [...]

  2. 3G is the third generation of mobile phone standards and technology, superseding 2G. It is based on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) family of standards under the International Mobile Telecommunications programme, IMT-2000. 3G technologies enable network operators to offer users a wider range of more advanced services while achieving greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency. Services include wide-area wireless voice telephony, video calls, and broadband wireless data, all in a mobile environment. Additional features also include HSPA data transmission capabilities able to deliver speeds up to 14.4Mbit/s on the downlink and 5.8Mbit/s on the uplink. Unlike IEEE 802.11 networks, 3G networks are wide area cellular telephone networks which evolved to incorporate high-speed internet access and video telephony. IEEE 802.11 (common names Wi-Fi or WLAN) networks are short range, high-bandwidth networks primarily developed for data.

  3. and Cisco dont want this hype to die down – as it is there bread and butter!

  4. @ Searchgov, of course it is their bread and butter. Anyway if it was pure hype I would have totally ignored this one, but it is just part of a larger trend.

  5. Jose Miguel Cansado Monday, June 16, 2008

    It is the exponential growth predicted by the law of Accelerating Returns.
    Still surprisingly, the capacity of flash cards doubles every year, and so it will do the number of cores in a chip processor, the hard-drives capacity and even the broadband bandwidth we enjoy at home (compare the 256kbps ADSL offered in 2002 with the 10-15Mbps you can get in 2008 and do the maths of growth).

    With HD getting into mainstream in the coming years, and entertainment industry totally digitalized, Cisco predictions could even stay short. I am sure we will find plenty of applications to load the computers of tomorrow: link

  6. Video to Drive 50% of Net Traffic « NewTeeVee Monday, June 16, 2008

    [...] Since Cisco sells the gear that gets this video to your home, you might be wary of these numbers. Om, however, has read the report and is taking it [...]

  7. Pay Per Click Journal Monday, June 16, 2008

    This certainly bodes well for anyone in the SEM industry. It seems that despite the current economy that this kind of job may in fact be recession proof as internet usage is going to continue to rise despite other factors.

  8. John Scobey Monday, June 16, 2008

    “Traffic on the world’s networks will increase 46 percent from 2007 to 2012, nearly doubling every two years.”

    46 percent over 6 years would be 7.6% per year, pretty modest.

    Om, I think you mean:
    Traffic on the world’s networks will increase 46 percent annually from 2007 to 2012, nearly doubling every two years.

  9. John Scobey: 1.46*1.46 = 2.13, which is *more* than double, tho’ I’m not sure what Om means!

  10. @John Scobey & @ Chao, it is annual growth and I updated to reflect that. Sorry about that.

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