Cisco predicts zettabytes, declining peer-to-peer

Cisco predicts zettabytes, declining peer-to-peer

Summary: As network traffic is tipped to reach zettabyte levels by 2016, network vendor Cisco has said that peer-to-peer traffic, as a percentage of total internet traffic, will actually drop 23 per cent in the next four years.


As network traffic is tipped to reach zettabyte levels by 2016, network vendor Cisco has said that peer-to-peer traffic, as a percentage of total internet traffic, will actually drop 23 per cent in the next four years.

In Cisco's 2011-2016 Visual Networking Index forecast released yesterday, the company forecasts that, by 2016, IP traffic is projected to reach 1.3 zettabytes (or 1.3 billion terabytes) globally, equating to 110 exabytes per month. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to generate the most IP traffic, at 40.5 exabytes per month in 2016, followed by North America. The United States will remain the biggest traffic generating country at 22 exabytes per month, followed by China at 12 exabytes per month.

There will be 2.5 network connections per person globally by 2016, or 18.9 billion in total, but the percentage that is connected to PCs will decline from 94 per cent to 81 per cent, with the increasing take up of smartphones and tablets.

Peer-to-peer traffic currently accounts for 77 per cent of all network traffic, or 4.6 exabytes per month in 2011. This is set to hit 10 exabytes by 2016, but it will only account for 54 per cent of all global network traffic in 2016, according to Cisco. The change, in part, is due to the growth of internet video users, which is set to increase from 792 million in 2011 to 1.5 billion in 2016.

There will be 23 million internet users in Australia with nearly 142 million network-connected devices by 2016 — equating to almost 6 devices, per person.

Bucking current trends of fixed line decline, Cisco predicts there will be 18 million fixed line internet users, up from 12 million in 2011. The average internet user will generate 30.1GB of traffic per month, a 577 per cent increase from 4.5GB per month that was generated in 2011.

Mobile traffic will grow twice as fast as fixed traffic between 2011 to 2016, with the average connection generating close to 3GB of mobile data traffic per month in 2016.

Suraj Shetty, vice president of Cisco's product and solutions marketing, said that as people start to have more than one internet-enabled device, the zettabytes just start piling up.

"Each of us increasingly connect to the network via multiple devices in our "always-on" connected lifestyles. Whether by video phone calls, movies on tablets, web-enabled TVs or desktop video conferencing, the sum of our actions not only creates demand for zettabytes of bandwidth, but also dramatically changes the network requirements needed to deliver on the expectations of this 'new normal'."

Topics: Browser, Broadband, Cisco, Government AU, Networking


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Peer to Peer is a robust networking protocol that is difficult to destroy and not only useful for file sharing but in fact excellent for serving high bandwidth streaming media. It has major advantages in that the user pays for it's power costs, is highly efficient, can be configured as a computing grid, and can be isolated from user equipment by the use of private OS nodes interfacing to public networking protocols. The problem is that it's really hard to make ongoing profit unless the user nodes are leased. The client server model is less robust as any hiccup can knock out an etire server farm, costs heaps in cetralised power costs but it is easy to charge for services.
    Obviously suppliers of server and networking hadware like Cisco prefer supplying single vendors in large quantities and would decry any other solution but when telcos decide to embrace a p2p solution with client accessible nodes, Cisco and others in the game will beat a different drum.
    • I think you've taken what they have said to be a criticism or opinion on the worth of P2P, but there's nothing to indicate that. This is a forecast, not a wishlist. The whole point is that if there was going to be a change where telcos started using P2P targeted infrastructure not only would that be mentioned in a forecast, but they would probably have their R&D working on getting it in to the market early. What they are saying is that this is not the pattern they're seeing at the moment.

      Their prediction makes a fair bit of a sense when you consider the primary reason P2P is so popular right now is that content owners have been slow to provide a viable alternative, but it's conceivable they will get there eventually, and when they are offering something competitive and the average connection is up to scratch do you think people will continue to trust anonymous downloads from strangers rather than a big name brand that can guarantee the performance and availability of a streaming on-demand service?