Earlier today, we released the 11th annual update to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Complete Forecast, 2015 – 2020. This report represents the culmination of months of data gathering, analysis, due diligence and crosschecking with syndicated and direct data sources. After all these years, we still go into the project with open minds and no preconceived notions of expected results. Invariably, after completing our work, and sharing the top-line growth rates with a few of our colleagues, we sometimes hear a familiar refrain. “So what?” That question now brings a smile to my face.

Allow me a brief digression. I’m a jazz fan. One my favorite tunes is a Miles Davis composition titled “So What.” Legend has it that Davis named this tune based on conversations he had with the actor Dennis Hopper (now that’s a legendary duo). Allegedly, during intellectual exchanges between the two men, Hopper would often simply reply, “So what?” If you know anything about these two late great artists, you might imagine how intriguing (and perhaps incoherent) the exchanges might have been. In any case, their friendship and Hopper’s questioning produced a jazz classic (you can Google it).

So, back to the forecast… When we hear “so what?” it prompts us to dig deeper into the underlying trends that are driving traffic growth. We delve into the shifts that are happening within global device and connection segments. We compare how people (and things) are accessing and using the Internet and private networks differently than they did just a few years ago. Here are three important trends that might surprise you.

1. By 2020, smartphones will generate 30% of total IP traffic, while PC’s total IP traffic contribution will fall to 29%.
Smartphones are becoming mobile communications hubs that not only allow us to communicate 1-on-1, but 1-to-many via social media platforms. This device also allows us to monitor, manage and control a host of other resources and services remotely (PVR/DVR, connected home, navigation, et al.). We can also consume and share various forms of multimedia and pay for goods and services from this single device. It will be a major transition – smartphones drive more traffic than PCs.


vni22. By 2020, M2M connections will exceed 12 billion and represent nearly half (46 percent) of all connected devices (26 billion).
Digitization is happening across a wide range of industries and business verticals. M2M applications can generate more data, create better insights and improve processes and outcomes for business and individuals.


3. By 2020, Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 78 percent of Internet traffic.
Consumers and business users clearly prefer mobile networks over fixed networks. The expanding availability of Wi-Fi and broader coverage of 4G makes mobile networking possible like never before. However, fixed networks still to offer superior network performance (from a speed and latency perspective). Continued enhancements to Wi-Fi technologies (i.e., 802.11ac and beyond) and the promise of 5G will be required to meet the demand and expectations of mobile users.


That’s one short response to the “so what.” I do hope these trends spark your interest in wanting to learn more about our research or the great work that many others do in tracking and analyzing broadband trends. If nothing else, you may have a new tune to consider for your playlist…

VNI Forecast Resources


Thomas Barnett, Jr.

Director, SP Thought Leadership

Worldwide Service Provider Marketing Group