Global IP traffic is expected to triple over the next five years, as a result of more than 1 billion new Internet users coming online before 2020, according to Cisco. As many as 10 billion new devices may join the Internet in that time, bringing the total number of connected devices up to 26.3 billion from the 16.3 billion that were connected in 2015.
The study is part of Cisco Visual Network Index, which conducts IP traffic and service production forecasts based on independent analyst forecasts and real-world data usage patterns. The report, labeled the Cisco VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast, 2015-2020, found that faster broadband speeds and the consumption of video content are also acting as major drivers of growth in IP traffic around the world.
Personal Devices and IoT Connections
The increased adoption of personal devices and machine-to-machine connections are also contributing to the meteoric rise in data traffic, Cisco said. By 2020, the company said it expects each person to have an average of 3.4 Internet-enabled devices, up from 2.2 devices per person in 2015.
Advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) are also continuing to drive IP traffic, according to the report. Applications such as video surveillance, smart meters, digital health monitors, and other machine-to-machine services are creating new network requirements and incremental traffic increases.
Globally, Cisco said machine-to-machine connections are calculated to grow nearly three-fold from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 12.2 billion by 2020, representing nearly half (46 percent) of total connected devices. The connected health consumer segment will have the fastest growth (five-fold) of connections from 2015 (144 million) to 2020 (729 million).
The connected home segment will have the largest volume of connections over the forecast period with 2.4 billion in 2015, growing to 5.8 billion by 2020, nearly half of all machine-to-machine connections.
Video, DDoS Major Contributors
Video services and content are the dominant leaders in data traffic at the moment, and that trend will likely continue in the future, Cisco said. Internet video will account for 79 percent of global Internet traffic by 2020, up from 63 percent last year. The world will reach 3 trillion Internet video minutes per month by 2020, which is 5 million years of video per month, or about 1 million video minutes every second.
“The digital transformation is happening now for billions of consumers and businesses users across the globe,” said Doug Webster, vice president of service provider marketing at Cisco, in a statement.
In addition, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, in which hackers paralyze networks by flooding their servers with traffic from multiple IP addresses, is also contributing to the growth in traffic. Cisco found that DDoS attacks can represent as much as 10 percent of a country's total IP traffic while they are happening. By 2020, DDoS attacks are projected to increase from 6.6 million to 17 million attacks, Cisco said.
“These initial findings underscore the need for more comprehensive security measures to protect data and reduce network exposure to such risks,” the company said in the statement.