IoT will account for nearly half of connected devices by 2020, Cisco says

The number of machine-to-machine connections should grow from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 12.2 billion in 2020, according to Cisco's annual Visual Networking Index.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

In the five-year span between 2015 and 2020, the Internet of Things will grow faster than any other category of connected devices, according to a new Cisco report, driving global IP traffic.

The number of machine-to-machine connections should grow nearly 2.5-fold, from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 12.2 billion in 2020, Cisco projects in its 11th annual Visual Networking Index: Global IP Traffic Forecast Update. By 2020, M2M connections should represent nearly half -- 46 percent -- of total connected devices, the report says.


With these sorts of projections, it's no surprise Cisco is cultivating its IoT business, with collaborations with IBM and the formation of a new IoT cloud business unit.

Globally, devices and connections (including M2M connections, smartphones, connected TVs, etc.) are growing faster than the population, Cisco notes. The report projects that the average number of devices and connections per capita will grow globally from two in 2015 to 3.2 by 2020.

"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 reports.

Drilling down further into the IoT market, the report finds that the connected health consumer segment should have the fastest M2M connections growth, increasing from 144 million in 2015 to 729 million in 2020. Still, the consumer home segment should account for nearly half of all M2M connections in 2020, growing from 2.4 billion in 2015 to 5.8 billion.

Given the changing mix of connected devices, Cisco expects the percentage of IP traffice coming from non-PC devices to grow from 47 percent in 2015 to 71 percent by 2020.

Here's a look at some of the report's other projections:

  • 1B new internet users: The global internet community should grow from three billion in 2015 to 4.1 billion by 2020.
  • The era of the Zettabyte: Global IP traffic is expected to reach an annual run rate of 2.3 zettabytes by 2020, 10 times more than all IP traffic generated in 2010.
  • Video traffic dominates: IP video will be 82 percent of all IP traffic by 2020, up from 70 percent in 2015, and internet video traffic will grow 4-fold from 2015 to 2020.
  • DDoS attacks: Expect DDoS attacks to increase over the next five years from 6.6 million to 17 million.
  • VR explosion: Virtual reality traffic quadrupled in the past year and will increase 61-fold by 2020.
  • Videoconferencing: Desktop /personal videoconferencing will be the fastest growing business Internet service, growing from 95 million users in 2015 to 248 million users by 2020.
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