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It’s common knowledge that the amount of online rich media consumption is increasing exponentially on an annual basis. But how much video traffic is projected over the next five years? And what does this growth really mean for global residential, business, and mobile subscribers and the service providers that support them? Well, to begin, we need to expand our traffic terminology. Today we live in a world of petabytes and exabytes but according to the latest findings from the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), we’ll need to add the term “zettabyte” to our vocabulary by 2015.

So, how much exactly is a zettabyte?

A zettabyte is roughly 1000 exabytes. To place that amount of volume in more practical terms, an exabyte alone has the capacity to hold over 36,000 years worth of HD quality video…or stream the entire Netflix catalog more than 3,000 times.  A zettabyte is equivalent to about 250 billion DVDs.

By 2015, the majority of global Internet traffic (61 percent) will be in some form of video—Internet video-to-PC, Internet video-to-TV, mobile video, et al.The “dawn of the Zettabyte era” will be an unprecedented online milestone that will occur in our lifetime.

To better understand the significance of a zettabyte, we have put together an in-depth infographic to provide a visual snapshot of our online future. The way the world uses the web is changing and this infographic provides a quick Cisco perspective of what’s to come.

Are you ready for the zettabyte era? Check out the infographic here.

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49 Comments.


  1. Nice infographic, it’s hard to fully comprehend numbers when they go sufficiently far beyond every day encouters!

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  2. Very Nice infographic. Thus the next shift is gonna be Videos. And the other inference is that the use of mobile networks is gonna increase phenomenally..

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  3. Excellent infographic – sums up the sheer quantity of data well. How were these projections made? Is the rapid acceleration of long form video data due to the shift of TV programming from cable networks to IP based networks like Hulu?

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    • @Will — thanks for your feedback. You’re right about the transition from broadcast TV to on-demand Internet video sites/content like Hulu and Netflix. It’s also about the nature of Internet video itself. YouTube has three times more users that Netflix. However, due to the nature of Netflix’ long-form content, its users generate three times more traffic than YouTube users. We define short-form video as content that is less than 7 minutes long—generally user-generated clips. Long-form content includes items that are longer than 7-minutes in duration and generally includes things like movies and TV episodes. There is a measurable evolution of video on the Internet from low-quality short form content/clips to high-quality long form programs and movies. More detail is in our public reports.

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  4. At this rate I can forsee a time when the PSTN and digital TV come to an end. The providers of the infrastructure and the providers of content are the winners here.

    Not sure what that means for the set-top box market though. I also wonder how much of that video content was produced using flip :-(

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  5. John Earnhardt
    John Earnhardt

    You can embed this infographic in your own site here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/58589040/Internet-in-2015
    or
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cisco_pics/5864669132/

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  6. Very Nice infographic. Thus the next shift is gonna be Videos. And the other inference is that the use of mobile networks is gonna increase phenomenally..

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  7. Interesting.
    How do you see this play out in the EM space, especially Africa where mobile networks are far more dominant than fixed line operators?

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  8. Very Nice infographic.

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  9. Interesting projections but I still cannot see how we can make the most of this considering that the vast majority of internet users are still confined to the limitations of 2D screens. Even when looking at video streaming giants, video capabilities are still relatively primitive. Yes, they are talking about the immense upload/download capacity but that should pretty much be by default. So, yes, videos may well dominate the internet traffic in 2015 but I hope it will go beyond the current state of the art and for this we need far better hardware (perhaps completely different technology).

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    • Thomas Barnett, Jr.
      Thomas Barnett

      @Milan: Thanks for your message/persective. We agree that the broad adoption/use of 3D video will not happen in the short-term. But standard-definition (SD) video versus high-definition (HD)is having an impact today. HD video-on-demand (VoD) will surpass SD VoD by the end of 2011. By 2015, HD Internet video will comprise 77 percent of VoD. There’s no doubt that global 3D video adoption is still at a nascent stage, but the hardware/technology upgrades that you alluded to are in the works. Check out: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9217878/Coming_with_3D_Smartphones_from_Sprint_AT_T.

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      • Hi Thomas,
        Sorry, I should have been clearer. I wasn’t referring to 3D video. I was rather referring to the current ability of hardware to keep pace with other technological advances. When I mentioned 2D monitors what I meant is that we haven’t really changed the shape of displays very much. Tablets can be seen as one attempt to play around with this physical limitation but that’s about it. There is also a widening gap that many don’t even notice. For example, mobile phones have developed tremendously when it comes to GUI, apps and so on but the battery life is pathetic and their ability to handle with enhanced graphics is often mediocre (apart from some notable exceptions of course). There are some basics that haven’t really changed at all since the inception of internet and there seems to be a lack of creativity. On the software side, we are dealing with ever more complex operating systems that are crashing more often than ever before. Therefore I am not surprised that Apple is doing so well! I still remember days of DOS and Windows 3.1 when things simply worked. So, yes, we see rapid development on one hand but we don’t see rapid enhancement of reliability and in many aspects hardware development has reached a creative vacuum. What I dream about (2015 and beyond) is to have ubiquitous technology (e.g. interactive walls instead of displays that respond to a voice command but not the kind available today – awkward at best, phones that use holographic technology, projected interactivity and so on, and above all reliability). I am hopeful though that one day all this will be achieved.

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        • Thomas Barnett, Jr.
          Thomas Barnett

          Thanks for the clarification Milan — I remember DOS and Windows 3.1 too. One of the barriers that may be affecting the innovations you are seeking is the financial aspect. What price points are we willing to pay as consumers for a truly new experience that we find valuable? Some of the “ubiquitous technology” that you mentioned may need to be trialed and perfected in commercial applications before economies of scale and sustainable business models make it affordable for consumers. We may not be dreaming of these things for much longer.

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  10. Really nice graphic, and really eye-opening too. As a video production company, storage (and delivery) is an important issue, so its nice to know what we are getting ourselves in for. I suppose as video files get larger (more detail i.e HD), so too will encoding/transcoding methods improve to improve quality to size ratio, and also there will have to be even more efficient modes of delivery (including better hi-speed internet access on a global scale). I dont want to imagine how long it would take me to download a zettabyte file on my home network…

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  11. Very good read. This information is exactly what small business owners need.

    Thank you Thomas

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  12. Great information. This is exactly the kind of information we need to be aware of when considering future projects.

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  13. Hi Thomas,
    Terrifying yet exciting stats (depending on which side of the fence you are).
    We at Chazz Studios are terribly excited as we are right at the forefront of a breakthrough in Lossy compression which may alter your predictions, since your data is directly based on the present Video file sizes.
    What if video files can be shrunk by, say 1/100 (or more) the present size? (we have achieved 50 to 1 comp with Audio files)
    We hope to make this technology available in the very near future and (in a lighter vein) hope you will be willing to eat humble pie.

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    • Thomas Barnett, Jr.
      Thomas Barnett

      Thanks Chetan — we actually do factor in a level of video compression within our forecast calculations.

      “For video categories, a 7 percent annual compression gain is applied to the bitrate. Local bitrates are then calculated based on how much the average broadband speed in the country differs from the global average, digital screen size in the country, and the computing power of the average device in the country.”

      Video compression advancements will certainly be valuable to service providers and their end customers and we’ll be prepared to revise our VNI methodology as new techniques are globally adopted and applied. Good luck with your work.

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  14. Nice infograph, thanks for sharing :)

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  15. I’m quite surprised about the large amount of file sharing being higher than web/email/data Do we talk here about clouds or remote backups ?

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    • Thomas Barnett, Jr.
      Thomas Barnett

      Hello Alexandra — our file sharing category encompasses peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic from all recognized P2P systems (such as BitTorrent and eDonkey). This can include video files, which are generally larger than typical web browsing, email, instant messaging traffic. We don’t have any specific data on cloud computing yet, but we have found that remote back-ups and software upgrades do have a measurable impact on overall network traffic.

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  16. Thanks. Great information!

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  17. Geez – those numbers are mind-boggling. Thank you for such an interesting article. I’d better go and upgrade our network!

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  18. Sweet infographic man, but by those days we probably start to get around holograms, wonder how much those would “weight”

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  19. Great data and infographic! I was actually surprised to see that:
    a)the amount of video traffic via mobile wasn’t closer to amount of video traffic via fixed networks over time
    b) the amount of mobile traffic compared to fixed traffic slowed down between 2014 & 2015 compared a couple of years prior.

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  20. Sounds interesting, I’d love to see the graphic, but it doesn’t display – is the link broken, or is this a problem limited to iOS devices?

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