Cisco Forecasts Increase in Internet Traffic. Hello Captain Obvious!

Greetings Readers!

This only comes as a shock to people living under a rock, but according to Cisco, internet traffic is going to increase! Their estimates show that by the year 2012, global internet traffic will reach half a zetabyte! For those who aren’t geeky enough to know your bytes, a zetabyte is 1 trillion gigabytes, or around 250 billion dvds worth of data.  That is a lot of data!

I will give you one guess why the traffic is going to be increasing by 46% annually.  If you guessed anything other than video, you clearly don’t check out enough blogs and podcasts.  Internet video traffic increased from 12% of global internet traffic in 2006 to 22% in 2007.  They predict that it will account for 90% of global internet traffic by 2012.  IPTV is included in that figure as well as video transfered via Peer-2-Peer networks.  The only other interesting figure in this prediction is that mobile traffic will double every year between 2008 and 2012.

None of these figures should come as a surprise to anybody.  With the popularity of viral video sites and streaming video sites growing in leaps and bounds, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that video traffic will account for 90% of internet data in 2012.  This news is floating around the internet, even hitting the front page of Digg like this is shocking information when its not a difficult prediction to make.  A zetabyte is a new word for many people but that doesn’t change the story any.  While this might be worth a small mention, there are more newsworthy things than an obvious story like this.

The only part of the prediction that I take issue with is the mobile data figure.  This figure is entirely dependent on mobile carriers.  What mobile carriers charge for data services and the availability of mobile data services are the determining factors here.  If carriers increase charges or don’t continue to expand their networks, this figure will never be reached.  Adoption of devices like the iPhone will help realize this figure but it still ultimately depends on the carriers.  Time will tell if this figure turns out to be accurate, but I’m not betting on it.

With predictions like this, it is worth asking, how with ISPs cope with this increase in traffic?  If we are having issues with companies like Comcast and their network management practices now, what will they be like in 2012 when a half a zetabyte is crossing the tubes every year?  This is a discussion for another post or podcast, but I will leave you to ponder that question.