Earlier this year, I presented on Reimagine Your Applications at Cisco Live Europe, well before travel restrictions and the cancellation of some major global events.

Now, as I look at the findings of Cisco Annual Internet Report, launched on 18th Feb, 2020, I find that we are moving towards more virtual interactions supported by real time and actionable information at our finger tips.

Following are a few observations.

Expansion of Internet population

By 2023, the number of Internet users will reach 66% of the global population, up from 51% in 2018. By 2023, the number of mobile users will reach 71% of the global population up from 66% in 2018.  This growth in the Internet and mobile users will be faster than the growth of the global population.  It will make access and dissemination of the information, learning, entertainment as well as opportunities relatively more equitable, and easier.

Growth in connections

By 2023, there will be nearly 30 billion devices and connections on the global network. This translates to 3.6 devices and connections per-capita globally.  Half of these will be machine to machine (M2M) or IoT connections.  So, not only, will we have nearly two end user devices such as a smartphone, laptop, connected TV, etc. per capita, but we will also have nearly two M2M connections such as connected home, connected car, connected health monitors, and the list goes on.  As Jonathan Davidson, Cisco’s Senior Vice President and General Manager for Mass-Scale Infrastructure says in his blog, “…with this kind of connectivity, industries like mining become safer, agriculture becomes more efficient, transportation becomes autonomous, and healthcare becomes wellness-driven, not crises-driven.”

Evolution in connectivity and seamless mobility

We continue to evolve on the scale of connectivity and seamless mobility.  By 2023, 45% or 13.1 billion of the global networked devices will have a cellular or LPWA connection. The remaining will have a wired or Wi-Fi connectivity.  Furthermore, nearly 11% of the total mobile connections will be connected over 5G networks.  And, 11% of all public Wi-Fi hotspots will be Wi-Fi 6 capable. Over the past few years we have had mobile technology enhancements every decade.  We are at a point of time where the 5G complimented with Wi-Fi 6 networks can enable new critical communication applications, support massive IoT density and enhanced broadband capabilities – all at the same time.  We can now expect seamless connectivity at speeds that were previously unimaginable to support new and emerging use cases for mobile – autonomous vehicles, factory automation, telemedicine and many more.

Not only are advancements being made on the mobile connectivity, but the performance continues to improve on the fixed networks as well, as measured in the more than doubling of fixed broadband speeds from 46 Mbps in 2018 to 110 Mbps by 2023.

Such performance upgrades in both the fixed and mobile networks can support multiple ultra-high definition (UHD) video streams, including video conferencing and telemedicine consult sessions.

Rise of next-generation applications

With the growth in connectivity, network, and computational evolution, we are also seeing an advancement in connected applications across the consumer and business landscape.  As the IoT connections grow so do the smartphone applications that manage and interact with many of these connections.  Along with a number of other business and consumer applications there will be nearly 300 billion mobile applications downloaded by 2023.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the cornerstones, driven by big data from this connected world, that can really add to the optimal application performance and end-user experience.  This will also help the teams scale and engage human skills for more creative and value-added jobs.

The rapid expansion of the global digital footprint measured by number of Internet users, connections (end user devices and IoT) and enhancements in network performance across fixed, and mobile (cellular + Wi-Fi) networks that can support an increasing number of applications – consumers as well as business, will also need to be strengthened by new and evolving security measures.

We hope you’ll take the time to explore our new report and supporting resources. Let us know what you think.

Cisco Annual Internet Report Resources



Shruti Jain

Leader, Project & Program Management

X-Architecture Marketing, Enterprise Networking & Cloud