RealTime IT News

Global IP Traffic Not Slowed by Recession

While the current recession is slowing service provider purchases of routing gear, it doesn't seem to be having much of an effect on traffic demands on carrier networks.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today issued its latest Visual Network Index (VNI) forecast, which predicts that total global IP traffic will hit 667 exabytes a year by 2013, a five-fold increase over 2008.

One of the goals of the Cisco VNI was to try to assess the effect of the economic downturn on network traffic.

"We were expecting more of an effect than we found," Arielle Sumits, senior analyst for service provider marketing at Cisco, said during a Web cast discussing the VNI. "We had a difference in the 2012 figures -- they did fall a little bit, and that was primarily due to a slight slowdown in the growth of fiber connections and advanced digital video services. There is just a little bit of a slowdown in consumer demand for those."

In 2008, Cisco's VNI predicted 2012 IP traffic of 522 exabytes. The new 2009 VNI forecast is now predicting 510 exabytes in 2012.

Sumits added that other areas are picking up the demand slack. Internet video growth and Web-based file sharing continue to grow rapidly. The growth of file sharing is not linked to the economy, according to Sumits, but rather is a function of the growth of social networking.

File sharing in the form of peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic like BitTorrent is actually declining as a percentage of total IP traffic, according to Cisco. At the end of 2008, P2P traffic represented 50 percent of consumer Internet traffic. By 2013, Cisco is predicting that P2P will represent only 20 percent.

By 2013, video will be the king of consumer IP traffic, accounting for 91 percent of global consumer traffic. Mobile data traffic is also expected to be dominated by video, with nearly 64 percent of mobile data traffic becoming video.

Passive networking growth

While file sharing and video are big-ticket items for network growth, there is also growth in what Cisco is calling 'passive networking,' which includes activities such as online backup, software updates, internet DVR, GPS tracking and security cams.

According to Cisco, passive networking currently adds an additional 15 minutes of network usage time per hour, which in total adds six more network hours to the day. Cisco is forecasting that passive networking will grow to create a digital network day of 36 hours by 2013. The total digital network day is a combination of person-to-person, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine network utilization.

During the Web cast presentation, Cisco used the term 'hyper-connectivity,' which was also used years ago by Nortel, to describe the new wave of network utilization. Hyper-connectivity is that people will continue to be increasingly connected to networks in multiple formats and mediums.

"The most important thing is this notion of hyper-connectivity and understanding what is driving growth," Thomas Barnett, senior manager of strategic messaging and communications, said on the Web cast. "The growth of the network and the Internet is still strong, and we see that through the economic downturn, people still embrace technology."