IP video to drive unprecedented surge in bandwidth usage by 2018
Michelle Clancy
| 11 June 2014
Thirst for IP-delivered video is poised to have a profound effect on bandwidth consumption, according to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index.

The VNI projects that annual IP traffic for 2018 alone will be greater than all of the Internet traffic that has ever been generated globally (from 1984-2013).

To put it in perspective, monthly global IP traffic by 2018 will be the equivalent of 8.8 billion screens streaming the FIFA World Cup final game in Ultra-HD/4K, all at the same time. The annual run-rate in fact should be about 1.6 zettabytes, or more than one and a half trillion gigabytes per year.

That's also equivalent to 5.5 billion people binge-watching Game of Thrones Season 4 via video-on-demand in HD or 1.5 billion watching in Ultra-HD/4K; 4.5 trillion YouTube clips; or 940 quadrillion text messages.

Online video will be the fastest growing residential Internet service, Cisco said, with a CAGR of 10% from 2013-2018, growing from 1.2 billion users to 1.9 billion users by 2018. And on the business front, desktop and personal videoconferencing will be the fastest growing business Internet service with a CAGR of 45%, growing from 37 million users in 2013 to 238 million users by 2018.

Taken together, IP video will be 79% of all IP traffic by 2018, up from 66% in 2013. More interestingly, UltraHD 4K video will account for 11% of IP video traffic by 2018, up from 0.1% in 2013. HD video will account for 52% (up from 36%) and SD will account for the remaining 37% (down from 64%).

"Our first Cisco Visual Networking Index nine years ago established the zettabyte as a major milestone for global IP traffic," said Doug Webster, vice president of products and solutions marketing at Cisco. "Today, we are firmly in the 'zettabyte era' and witnessing incredible innovations and shifts in the industry. The reality of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the increasing demand for network mobility and the emergence of 4K video are among the key trends highlighted in this year's forecast that represent significant opportunities for service providers today and in the immediate future."

The exponential growth is already starting to happen: 2014 FIFA World Cup is set to begin this week, and streaming and IP broadcast of both live and on-demand streams from the world's biggest sporting event is anticipated to generate 4.3 exabytes of IP traffic, which is three times the amount of monthly IP traffic currently generated by Brazil, the World Cup host.