Have you seen the numbers? There are a few more of us on the Internet now than there were last year—and over the next four years, today’s numbers will look humble in comparison.
About one-third of the world’s population today is using the Internet. That includes all of us—whether we’re in offices in Silicon Valley, in airports in Tokyo or Dubai, or surfing from the Gobi Desert.
As fixed and mobile networks grow and expand, an ever-increasing portion of the world’s population will have network and Internet access. Fast-forward to the year 2016, when there will be about 3.4 billion Internet users around the world, close to half (45 percent) of the world’s population. That’s like adding the entire population of China two and a half times in the next four years.
By comparison, the last time we looked at that number in 2011, there were 2 billion Internet users—about 28 percent of the world’s population.
These numbers come from the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), our ongoing effort to analyze and forecast the growth and use of IP networks. The VNI’s annual report contains a wealth of insight that many of us will find actionable.
What the VNI tells us is that we will be entering a new era, as all these end users generate 1.3 zettabytes of IP traffic globally in 2016. Yes, zettabytes. For many of us, that word is not even recognized by our spell-checkers. One zettabyte is equivalent to a trillion gigabytes, or, in conceptual terms, about 250 billion DVDs. Here’s another way to look at it: if an 11-ounce cup of coffee equals 1 gigabyte, then 1 zettabyte would have the same volume as the Great Wall of China.
Where are these new users coming from? The Middle East and Africa will continue to be the fastest growing IP traffic regions 2011 to 2016, with tenfold growth rates but Asia Pacific will grow the most in terms of total people. At the country level, India, Brazil, and South Africa will be the fastest-growing IP traffic generators, while the US and China will be the highest traffic-generating countries in 2016, producing a whopping 22 and 12 exabytes per month, respectively.
Take a look at this video, “Cisco VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast: How the Internet Impacts the Global Economy.”
So, what do all these figures mean to the industry? One word: Opportunity.
Opportunity for people to advance the impact the network can have on their lives; opportunity for societies to advance their education and economic growth; opportunity for businesses to reach an even greater online market; and opportunity for service providers to fulfill the ever increasing demand customers have for their offerings.
At Cisco, we’re working to help translate those opportunities into reality in order to help bring benefit to all in this ever expanding network of users.