Online usage, including USENET, is growing so rapidly that just its incremental, one-year growth between 2014 and 2015 will be equal to all the online traffic recorded worldwide last year.
A report from Cisco predicts that the total amount of global Internet traffic will quadruple between 2010 and 2015 and reach 966 exabytes per year (equal to 966 billion gigabytes). That’s nearly a fully zettabyte.
An exabyte is equal to one quintillion bytes. In 2004, global monthly internet traffic passed one exabyte for the first time.
The projected increase in Internet traffic between 2014 and 2015 alone is 200 exabytes, which is greater than the total amount of Internet Protocol traffic generated globally in 2010.
Those are just some of the mind-blowing statistics released Wednesday in Cisco’s annual Visual Networking Index, a comprehensive view and forecast of the data trends shaping the Internet.
The company, in its fifth annual Visual Networking Index forecast, also said that the number of network-connected devices by 2015 will reach more than 15 billion, or about twice the world’s population.
On an hourly basis, the amount of data consumed will equal the contents of 28 million DVDs. The increase of 200 exabytes between 2014 and 2015 is by itself more than all the data consumed in 2010. Cisco predicts the proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, connected appliances and other smart machines will drive this growth.
In 2010, PCs generated 97% of consumer online traffic, however this is predicted to fall to 87% by 2015, as consumers continue to adopt devices such as tablets, smart phones and Connected TVs for online access. Accessing the Internet on Web-enabled TVs is continuing to grow, according to Cisco, which predicts that by 2015, 10% of global consumer Internet traffic and 18% of Internet video traffic will be consumed via TVs.
Newsgroups report that Cisco also said that by 2015, about 40 percent of the world’s population will be online.
The biggest problem with the forecasts is that they appear to fall into the inferential statistics trap. Put simply, this means looking at a historical trend and assuming that it will continue to grow in the future, without taking into account limitations on that trend. In this situation, the limit is that the new Internet users are most likely to be in locations where for either economic or geographic reasons; maximum speeds are considerably lower than today’s average.
While not addressed in Cisco’s report, the numbers are further cause for concern for arbitrary data caps with overage fees. According to Cisco, the average fixed broadband speed in 2015 will reach 28Mbps, up from 7Mbps in 2010. What good will all that speed be if ISPs continue to clamp down on the amount of content users are able to consume every month?