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Summary:

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

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  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.

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

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  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.

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  5. 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

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  6. [...] 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 [...]

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  7. 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.

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  8. “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.

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

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

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  11. [...] GigaOM Artikelzusatzinfos 1. Tags: cisco, mobile usage, Mobile Web, traffic, trends, web trends 2. [...]

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  12. I think the today’s Internet is the just begining… we didn’t touch the botton and I think, we are far far way… Imagine now when the 3G phones like Apple’s IPhone became cheaper and accessible?

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  13. [...] will be an annual bandwidth demand of approximately 522 exabytes2, or more than half a zettabyte.read more | digg story This post has been read 1 [...]

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  14. JOhnny BlueFoot Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    LOL, yeah great growth for the internet and great throttling by the major ISPs. I can hardly wait!

    JT
    http://www.Fireme.to/udi

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  15. [...] | Big Growth for the Internet Ahead, Cisco Says - GigaOM Big Growth for the Internet Ahead, Cisco Says – GigaOM: Om is “happy” with Cisco’s new traffic forecast of 46% annual growth for 2007 to [...]

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  16. hmmm….interesting predictions – but thats all they are predictions – lottery predicitons is what we need… wouldnt take a genius to predict that internet usage will continue to increase in the near future. everyones making money out of the high usage of companies – so many providers now offering isp bonding, even qos bandwidth management to priortise and shape traffic, fibre being deployed in uk areas, internet link load balancers, voip providers, data compressioners, mpls the list is endless……………………………..now would these people really exist if internet usage would grow……?

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  17. in ref to above comment meant to say “wouldnt grow”…..?

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  18. I was surprised to read that China is the leading user of broadband. As I understand it, only a small percentage of their population has broadband access.

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  19. Anyone know of any studies tieing broadband growth to storage growth? I see lots of similarities – wouldn’t be surprised if they’re proportional.

    Makes sense, don’t you think? A certain percent of info passed back and forth gets kept

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  20. @Funny T-Shirts
    Even a small proportion of China’s population still a substantial proportion of the internet population, and those that do have broadband access tend to be a very technology-savvy group.

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  21. A few comments:
    1. Cisco’s global forecast is entirely in line with Pioneer Consulting’s forecasts although it should be noted that there are significant variances on a regional basis. As Om rightly points out, China is growing fast (faster than the global average) while Africa is seeing around 30% p.a. growth.
    2. Broadband penetration in China expressed as a percentage may look small but given the size of the Chinese population it still makes a signficiant contribution to overall bandwidth demand. However you have to temper forecasts of demand from China for international Internet content with the knowledge that the censor is ever vigilant!
    3. I agree with Om that Internet traffic is “globalising” but I think that this is a very slow evolutionary process. North America remains the source for the great majority of Internet content and I don’t see the balance being tipped in favour of any other region or country in my lifetime.
    4. Broadband growth and storage growth should in theory be proportional but I think that this proportionality will only become clear when the market has matured. At the moment, I think we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the Internet can do for us as citizens and what it can do for corporations. New applications such as You Tube will skew the proportionality metric and so will corporations’ growing realisation that their data networks are vulnerable to natural disaster requiring more sophisticated disaster recovery plans. In our submarine cable space, people are building new cable systems to meet growing demand but they are also building route diversity. For example, TeleGreenland is building a cable which will connect Canada to Iceland via Greenland and Farice, a Faroese / Icelandic company is building a cable from Iceland to Denmark with a view to creating a diverse transatlantic route with data centers in Iceland running on low-cost geothermal power.

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  22. [...] with cable which will hopefully drive pricess waaaay down. Cisco’s stock is sure to benefit.read more | digg [...]

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  23. [...] Om Malik also states in his analysis, these figures make the recent push for metered broadband moves by U.S. ISPs all the more ominous, [...]

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  24. [...] Om Malik also states in his analysis, these figures make the recent push for metered broadband moves by U.S. ISPs all the more ominous, [...]

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  25. [...] a sixfold jump in Internet traffic with online video accounting for up to 50% of that usage. Even skeptics agree, Web-based video is going to explode in the coming years (that is, of course, if broadband [...]

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  26. Demand for bandwidth is set to increase with the increased popularity of the internet and e-commerce. Let’s hope web servers are able to support the enormous load of more than half a zettabyte.

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  27. [...] the other hand, CISCO stated big growth of the Internet is ahead and superfast Internet connection will enter the markets in the next 5-10 [...]

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  28. [...] the other hand, CISCO stated big growth of the Internet is ahead and superfast Internet connection will enter the markets in the next 5-10 [...]

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  29. [...] 4. Big Growth for the Internet Ahead, Cisco Says – Gigaom.com [...]

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  30. WTF is a “new Nordic nation”?!

    Furthermore, what’s this crap about exabytes? Internet backbone capacity is measured in 10 Gbps wavelenghts. The Internet is not a frigging harddisk!

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  31. Thanks to Om for highlighting this important report and to everyone else in this comment thread for the analysis. We added a little of our own spin at NextGenWeb.org. http://tinyurl.com/3w4qlm

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  32. [...] geographical boundaries and it’s fast. I came across an article recently by Om Malik called Big Growth for the Internet Ahead, Cisco Says and the graphic caught my [...]

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  33. [...] The Internet is big and some people think it’s just going to keep getting bigger. Volume makes it difficult to stay on top of everything and despite our best efforts it is [...]

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  34. [...] Big Growth for the Internet to Continue, Cisco Predicts [...]

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  35. [...] by users wanting to access that content are growing: specifically, traffic is expected to grow at 46 percent annually between now and 2012, while the amount of content available continues to skyrocket [...]

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  36. [...] 3.2 terabits of data per second. That’s a lot of cloud services or HD video via iTunes, but Internet consumers are demanding it. And with the speed which new services including video and 3G wireless are growing, we need the [...]

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  37. [...] 3.2 terabits of data per second. That’s a lot of cloud services or HD video via iTunes, but Internet consumers are demanding it. And with the speed which new services, including video and 3G wireless, are growing, we need the [...]

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  38. [...] to be the top five bandwidth-hungry applications. Cisco mined the data it gathered for its visual networking index and came up with the top five in the consumer, business and mobile categorie…. I have chosen the following five based on how much bandwidth they use and how much speed they [...]

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  39. [...] June 24, 2008 · No Comments The sheer amount of information available today is staggering. A latest article shows that there is no let up in the growth of the Internet. [...]

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  40. [...] is releasing a new router targeting the metro networks – which are seeing a big surge in demand, especially in large cities. The demand for bandwidth in those regions, as I have outlined earlier, [...]

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  41. [...] looks at growth not as an incoming exaflood of information designed to take out networks or sell more routers, but to actually forecast the growth of [...]

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  42. Thank you for writing this article. Question – what impact do you think the recent economic downturn will have on these demand forecasts? From those that I’ve asked, I’ve heard (1) we’ll have to wait and see (2) no-impact (3) increased demand based on the changing environment. Anyone else’s thoughts would be appreciated.

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  43. [...] web in an effort to squeeze additional efficiencies out of the system and save a few pennies. Such infrastructure is already under pressure as the demand for online video explodes — another phenomenon that that shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. (Related post: Why [...]

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  44. [...] web in an effort to squeeze additional efficiencies out of the system and save a few pennies. Such infrastructure is already under pressure as the demand for online video explodes — another phenomenon that that shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. (Related post: Why [...]

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  45. [...] February 10, 2009 | 1:12 PM PT | 0 comments Cisco today released the latest iteration of its Visual Networking Index, and forecast that mobile traffic worldwide would reach more than one exabyte per month by 2012. To [...]

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  46. [...] em Uncategorized Cisco hoje lançado o mais recente iteração da sua Visual Networking Index, e previu que o tráfego móvel mundial atingiria mais de um exabyte por mês [...]

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  47. [...] HD downloads, and faster connection speeds that make downloading movies in HD possible. However video still has a lot of growth ahead for it, which is why ISPs are building out faster networks as well as why they are talking about caps and [...]

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  48. [...] Stacey Higginbotham | Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 6:58 AM PT | 0 comments Carriers are building out long-haul network capacity like it was 2001, but they’re not going to break the bank this time around, according to a report out today from TeleGeography Research. The firm’s Global Bandwidth Research Service says the growth in submarine cable and long-haul transport capacity is in response to a 64 percent surge in international bandwidth usage last year. [...]

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  49. [...] the most part, the big trends that Cisco first explored in its survey last year are the same, notably video, the continued growth of Internet use in developing countries and the [...]

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  50. [...] news mirrors Cisco’s findings in its first survey issued last year that estimated video would be 90 percent of IP traffic by 2012. By 2013 the [...]

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  51. [...] the full article, check out http://gigaom.com/2008/06/16/big-growth-for-internet-to-continue-cisco-p…  June 17th, 2008  Jonathan Litwack   No [...]

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  52. [...] something the communications industry is increasingly able to provide, not just at the high end but even to average consumers. And with those network expansions, Cisco wins, because it provides the underlying equipment to the [...]

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  53. [...] Higginbotham Feb. 9, 2010, 1:41pm PST No Comments          0 Video is driving the projected increase in both mobile and wired broadband — but it’s not the proliferation of video that’s the problem for mobile operators [...]

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  54. [...] that point, 91 percent of the traffic will be video, a culprit that was fingered for huge increases in bandwidth consumption in previous years’ VNI surveys. In the meantime, 2010 is forecast to be the first year that [...]

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