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The age of the Zettabyte is upon us. Well, it will be in four years’ time at any rate.
By 2016, global IP traffic will reach 1.3 zettabytes per year or 109.5 exabytes (10^18 bytes) per month. That’s according to the latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecast from US-based networking giant Cisco Systems.
To put that into some kind of perspective, one zettabyte is equal to equal to one sextillion bytes, or one-billion terabytes.
To get there, IP traffic will have to grow fourfold from where it was in 2011. That’s not all that unlikely though. Back in 2006, combining all the hard drives on the planet would have only given you 160 exabytes of storage.
Internet traffic meanwhile is expected to grow at much the same rate and is set to reach 3.0 Exabytes a day in 2016, up from 780 Petabytes a day in 2011.
Around 54% of that traffic will be people watching video, with 3-trillion minutes of video content crossing the Internet each month in 2016, up from 735- billion in 2011.
If anything, mobile data is growing at even more astonishing rate than fixed IP data. Cisco reckons that mobile data traffic will grow 18-fold from 2011 to 2016.
This means that mobile data traffic in 2016 will be equivalent to five times the volume of the entire Global Internet in 2005.
As Mary Meeker noted in her 2012 Internet Trends report, much of this growth is being driven by emerging market regions.
In Latin America for instance, Internet traffic will grow 7.3-fold from 2011 to 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 49%. In Africa, it will grow 11.1-fold from 2011 to 2016, at a compound annual growth rate of 62%.
Mobile data in Africa and the Middle East meanwhile will grow 36-fold from 2011 to 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 104%. That means mobile data traffic will reach 635 Petabytes per month in four years’ time, up from 18 Petabytes per month in last year, which is equivalent to 31x the volume of the entire Middle Eastern and African Internet in 2005.
The region is a leader in this regard, with North America growing the next fastest, at 75%. Africa and the Middle East’s regional mobile growth is actually comparable to that of India, a country where more people now access the web on mobile devices than via desktop.
In the next four years, Indian mobile data traffic will grow 58-fold at a compound annual growth rate of 126%.
Despite having to catch up in terms of broadband penetration, some emerging markets also look set to lead the way when it comes to online video. In China for instance, the medium is expected to account 80% of all consumer internet traffic in 2016.
By way of comparison, video will only account for 60% of internet traffic in Western Europe by 2016.