Middle East and Africa showing fastest growth in IP traffic

08 June 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

IP traffic is growing fastest in the Middle East and Africa – where annual growth rate is 41% – followed by Asia-Pacific, where the annual growth is 22%, according to Cisco.

Globally, IP traffic will triple by 2020 and 82% of it will be video by 2020. The figures come from this week’s Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), an annual look at the progress of IP traffic round the world. 

Thomas Barnett, Cisco’s director of thought leadership for its service provider business, identified three main trends contributing to growth: “By 2020, smartphones will generate 30% of total IP traffic, while PCs’ total IP traffic contribution will fall to 29%. By 2020, machine-to-machine (M2M) connections will exceed 12 billion and represent nearly half (46%) of all connected devices (26 billion). By 2020, Wifi and mobile-connected devices will generate 78% of internet traffic.”

Overall growth at 22% a year is very slightly down on last year’s Cisco VNI forecast, which predicted an annual 23% from 2014 to 2019. “It appears that global IP traffic growth is stabilizing in the 20–25 percentage range,” said Cisco.

The company added some extra observations. For example, “By 2020, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross the global Internet every two minutes. Globally, IP traffic will reach 511Tbps in 2020, the equivalent of 142 million people streaming internet high-definition video simultaneously, all day, every day. Global IP traffic in 2020 will be equivalent to 504 billion DVDs per year, 42 billion DVDs per month, or 58 million DVDs per hour.”

Total internet traffic has experienced dramatic growth in the past two decades, said Cisco. In 1992, global internet networks carried approximately 100GB of traffic a day. Ten years later, in 2002, global internet traffic amounted to 100Gbps. In 2015, global internet traffic reached more than 20,000Gbps.

M2M connections will be the fastest-growing category, growing nearly 2.5-fold during the forecast period, at 20% a year, to 12.2 billion connections by 2020. Smartphones will grow the second fastest, at 13% a year. Connected TVs and similar devices are growing at 12% a year.

“By 2020 the consumer share of the total devices, including both fixed and mobile devices, will be 74%, with business claiming the remaining 26%,” says Cisco.