Australian fixed broadband speeds to average 44.3Mbps by 2020: Cisco

Fixed broadband will increase 2.4-fold between 2015 and 2020, according to Cisco, while Wi-Fi speeds grow by 2.6-fold and mobile connection speeds double.

Cisco has published its Visual Networking Index (VNI) report for Australia, revealing that while fixed-line internet speeds will increase by 2.4-fold over the next five years, Australia is still lagging the rest of the world.

Presenting the Australian traffic forecasting report, Kevin Bloch, Cisco's CTO for Australia and New Zealand, discussed Cisco's forecast of internet traffic rates, device usage, and a breakdown of technology for the five-year period between 2015 and 2020.

According to Cisco, the average fixed broadband speed, including National Broadband Network (NBN) connections, is predicted to grow from 18.4Mbps in 2015 to 44.3Mbps in 2020.

For fixed broadband in 2020, 81 percent of connections will have faster speeds than 5Mbps; 53 percent will be faster than 10Mbps; 17.7 percent will be faster than 25Mbps; and 16 percent will be faster than 50Mbps.

Average Wi-Fi speeds will also grow by 2.6-fold over the five-year period, from 9.1Mbps up to 23Mbps, while the average mobile connection speed will double to reach 16Mbps in 2020.

Bloch said Australia is "too far behind" in speeds, although he said it is not so much the speeds as what you use the connectivity for.

"The worst thing we can be as a country is complacent. Just because we're spending whether it's AU$41 or AU$29 billion on the National Broadband [Network] infrastructure, to me that's only the beginning, because we're only shooting electrons faster. What do you do with those electrons? That's much more important," the CTO argued.

"We do provide that physical optical copper, HFC [hybrid fibre-coaxial] infrastructure, and that's good business for us, but I spend a lot more of my time thinking about what does this mean?

"The message we're trying to convey to Australian companies is that we're in a race. And it's not a race between two Australian companies, it's a race between Australia and the rest of the world. And we've really got to kick ass here, and we've got to move along."

Australian IP traffic will grow three-fold between 2015 and 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21 percent, to reach 1.9 exabytes per month and 62 petabytes per day, with an annual run rate of 22.5 exabytes. Average IP traffic will be 6Tbps by 2020, while "busy hour" or peak traffic will reach 32Tbps.

Total internet traffic will increase from 606 petabytes per month up to 1.7 exabytes by 2020, or 55 petabytes per day, up from 20 petabytes per day in 2015. Busy hour internet traffic will grow at a CAGR of 34 percent, to reach 28Tbps, while average internet traffic will be 5Tbps.

The disparity between peak and average data usage is concerning for telecommunications providers, Bloch said; the divergence of 34.1 percent CAGR for peak and 22.4 percent CAGR for average will result in pressure on networks.

"Here's a big deal for the telcos: Average hour and busy hour divergence of about 1.5. It's growing half as fast again -- 34 percent CAGR, 22 percent CAGR. This is a big issue, because how do you build for peak?" he said.

"For the telcos, it's only getting worse ... as we demand more content, clearly technically we've got to serve that content smarter; that's what content delivery networks do."

Mobile data traffic will grow five-fold between 2015 and 2020 at a CAGR of 40 percent; it made up 6.3 percent of total internet traffic in 2015, but will make up 12.3 percent in 2020. It will reach 204 petabytes per month in 2020, up from 38 petabytes in 2015.

In 2020, Cisco has predicted the average internet user to generate 60GB of internet traffic per month, an increase of 139 percent, and the average household to go through 149.3GB per month, up 146 percent. Average fibre-to-the-node/basement/premises/distribution point (FttX) households will generate 240.7GB of internet traffic per month, up from 143.1GB in 2015, while the average mobile connection will generate 4,777MB of mobile data traffic per month, up almost 300 percent from the 1,199MB reported in 2015.

There will be 21 million total internet users in Australia by 2020, Cisco said, representing 81 percent of the total population, up from 18 million and 74 percent of the population in 2015.

According to Cisco, Australians will be "addicted" to video streaming by 2020, with video traffic to grow three-fold by 2020 at a CAGR of 27 percent. It will reach 1.4 exabytes per month in 2020, up from 418 petabytes per month in 2015, with total internet video traffic to make up 82 percent of all internet traffic in 2020, up from 69 percent in 2015.

Netflix is having a "material impact" on the growing busy hour usage of internet, as are smartphones with increasing capabilities being released, Bloch said.

Internet gaming traffic, meanwhile, will jump by nine-fold during the same period, at a CAGR of 55 percent. It will grow from 418 petabytes per month to 1.4 exabytes per month, and will make up 7 percent of consumer internet traffic in 2020. In 2015, it made up 2 percent of consumer internet traffic.

Cisco has also predicted that there will be 237 million networked devices by 2020, up from 130.4 million in 2015, with 34 percent of these to be mobile connected. Of all networked devices, 59 percent will be machine-to-machine (M2M) modules; 14 percent will be connected TVs; 11 percent will be smartphones; 8 percent will be PCs; and 3 percent will be tablets.

M2M modules will use an average of 0.645GB per month, while smartphones will use 11.8GB per month, tablets will average 24.7GB per month, PCS will use 48.7GB per month, and connected 4K TVs will use 4.6GB per month.

On this growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and data usage, Bloch referred to the CSIRO's RFID bee backpacks to discuss what he calls "IoT Lite" -- low-cost, long battery life devices that are necessary to make the IoT work.

"I'm on record to say that the telco costs of connecting to 'things' in 10 years time will be zero," he added.

"The money is in the applications and in the data."

Bloch also said Australia is "really behind" in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, lagging in 13th place worldwide. He said the two keywords for STEM are quality and scale, with a high-quality program needing to be rolled out nationwide. He also said another letter needs to be added to the acronym.

"It shouldn't be STEM, it should be STEMC," Bloch said.

"The C is about creativity. Because if you look at compute and humans, humans are quite distinct today from what computers can do.

"That's what we should be thinking about: How to use technology creatively. Computers are a long, long away from that."

The release of the Australian stats followed the publication of Cisco's 11th annual Visual Networking Index: Global IP Traffic Forecast Update two weeks ago. The global report predicted that nearly half of all connected devices will be Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2020.

M2M connections will grow from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 12.2 billion in 2020, Cisco added, with 46 percent of all connected devices made up of M2M connections.

"A growing number of M2M applications, such as smart meters, video surveillance, healthcare monitoring, transportation, and package or asset tracking, are contributing in a major way to the growth of devices and connections," Cisco reported.

The e-health segment will see the most M2M growth, Cisco said, jumping from 144 million in 2015 up to 729 million in five years. The consumer home industry will have the most M2M connections, however, with 5.8 billion predicted by 2020.

Cisco also projected that by 2020, there will be: 1 billion new internet users; global IP traffic will reach 2.3 zettabytes annually; IP video to make up 82 percent of all IP traffic; DDoS attacks will increase to 17 million; virtual reality traffic will increase 61-fold; and videoconferencing will grow to 248 million users.

As a result of the burgeoning IoT business, Cisco is collaborating with IBM on IoT and has formed a new IoT cloud business unit.