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Video will continue to account for the overwhelming share of total data sent via Internet Protocol (IP) over the next five years, according to Cisco’s annual Visual Network Index (VNI) forecast.


Overall IP traffic will increase by nearly three times by 2021 to reach 35 GB per person per month, up from 13 GB last year.

Smartphone traffic will also overtake PC traffic in that time. Smartphones will account for 33 percent of total IP traffic in 2021, up from 13 percent in 2017. PCs accounted for 46 percent of total IP traffic last year; this will decrease to 25 percent by 2021.


Here are other notable video-related stats from Cisco’s VNI report, with additional commentary:

Video will represent 82 percent of all IP traffic in 2021, including consumer and business IP traffic, amounting to a million minutes of video transmitted through networks every second. Internet video, IP video-on-demand, videos exchanged through file sharing, video-streamed gaming, and video conferencing are factored into this estimate. Last year, video accounted for 73 percent of global IP traffic.


Specific video formats are poised for growth. Live video is expected to grow 15-fold, from 3 percent of internet video traffic to 13 percent by 2021. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will increase by 20 times between 2018 and 2021 globally, at a compound annual growth rate of 82 percent. Stemming largely from downloads of VR content files and apps, and an uptick VR streaming would push Cisco’s prediction even higher.


Internet video delivered to TV is taking hold. This category grew by 50 percent in 2016 and will grow 3.6-fold by 2021. By 2021, internet video to TV will be 26 percent of fixed consumer internet video traffic. AT&T’s DirecTV, Dish’s SlingTV, Hulu, YouTube, and PlayStation have all released IPTV services, and as more of these products hit the market, this category of video streaming is expected to grow.

But mobile video is growing faster than TV. Growth in digital TV (comprising cable, satellite) is growing much slower relative to mobile video, especially in North America and Western Europe, where digital TV penetration is high. The Middle East and Africa, on the other hand, are the only regions with double-digit growth for digital TV, with 11 percent compounded annual growth.
These forecasts encompass both internet and non-internet IP traffic, otherwise known as managed IP traffic. Internet traffic covers IP traffic that crosses over an internet network, often via multiple internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks (CDNs). Managed IP is limited to IP traffic that is managed from source to endpoint by a single service provider over a single network, such as corporate IP wide area network (WAN) traffic.

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