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Distribution & Delivery Global Viewpoint – July 2017

Cisco Says Global Consumer IP Traffic to Reach 233 EB Per Month by 2021

In 2021 Cisco's research says it would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks in just one month. By then, a million minutes of video content will cross the network every second.

Cisco recently released this year's Visual Networking Index (Cisco VNI) 2017. The report tracks the changes in IP traffic over a five year span, from 2016 to 2021.

The Visual Networking Index for 2017 says that consumer mobile internet video traffic will increase by 55% by 2021. Internet video to TV will increase almost one-third, 27%.

The growth in usage of the internet will be significant with the number of users projected to increase from 3.3 billion in 2016 to 4.6 billion by 2021, 50 percent of the global population. Global internet traffic will increase nearly threefold by 2021 with IP traffic reaching 3.3 ZB per year.

For broadcasters, video streamers and digital content creators, the key part of survey results is that video will continue to dominate IP traffic, representing 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2021, up from 67 percent in 2016.

Arielle Sumits, a senior analyst with Cisco who worked on the VNI Report began our interview with The Broadcast Bridge, by telling us, “In the early days of Internet video there was a lot of speculation whether people were wiling to watch movies on a small screen, but we found in five years video will account for 82 percent of global IP traffic.

Cisco predicts that global IP traffic will grow from less than 96 Exabytes (1 EB = 1000 petabytes) per month in 2016 to 278 EB in 2017. Click to enlarge.

Cisco predicts that global IP traffic will grow from less than 96 Exabytes (1 EB = 1000 petabytes) per month in 2016 to 278 EB in 2017. Click to enlarge.

Digging deeper into the data, the VNI report found that Long Form VOD will be the largest category (Movies, long form specials) with Short Form Internet VOD (You Tube) will be second.

“The reduction of live video is credited to the fact that traditional TV broadcasts become unicast when transferred to the Internet,” Sumits explained. “Since that means you have to deliver each individual stream it makes a 3 percent to 13 percent growth possible in just five years. Of course, one of the major components of Live Internet Video is sports, which will drive large audience numbers.”

The report calls for global Internet traffic to grow from 48.5 EB in 2016 to 181 EB in 2016. Click to enlarge.

The report calls for global Internet traffic to grow from 48.5 EB in 2016 to 181 EB in 2016. Click to enlarge.

A part of the Live Video segment measured was Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The survey shows that growing 82 percent CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) by 2021.

“Many of these files will be downloaded,” Sumits said, “but there are a lot of companies investing in this area giving it a 20 fold growth.”

VR/AR traffic will grow 20X by 2021. Click to enlarge.

VR/AR traffic will grow 20X by 2021. Click to enlarge.

The report also sees the shift toward Ultra High Definition (UHD) growing from 2 percent usage today to 21 percent usage by 2021.

“Standard definition video remains at 22 percent, and most of that is accounted for by mobile users,” she said. “But the growth in UHD traffic is because we find that 56 percent of flat panel sets will be UHD capable by 2021 and since each of them use 2.5 X more bandwidth they result in a substantial increase in IP traffic."

Thanks in part to the higher resolution of HD, IP traffic will grow from 70.3 EB to 227.6 EB in 2021. Click to enlarge.

Thanks in part to the higher resolution of HD, IP traffic will grow from 70.3 EB to 227.6 EB in 2021. Click to enlarge.

Cisco’s VNI Report does take into account improvements in compression codecs affecting IP traffic. Sumits explained that the Report calculated the bitrate required for UHD OTT Video in 2016 was 11.5 Mbps and will be down to 8.3 Mbps by 2021.

For UHD IP VOD we need 17.7 Mbps now, and that is predicted to drop to 12.5 Mbps within five years.

One other nest of statistics that Sumits thought would be of interest to The Broadcast Bridge readership is the predicted growth of Digital Media Adapters (DMA), such as Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast.

“In the world of OTT service, if DMAs occupy 16 percent of the market today, we expect they will more than double to 34 percent of set top boxes by 2021. That shows a major evolution in home video entertainment viewing,” she said.”

By 2021, Digital Media Adapters will be a major player in Internet Set Top Boxes. Click to enlarge.

By 2021, Digital Media Adapters will be a major player in Internet Set Top Boxes. Click to enlarge.

The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) 2017 is available at this link.

Average global internet bandwidth usage. Click to enlarge.

Average global internet bandwidth usage. Click to enlarge.

Author’s comment

Cisco should be applauded for compiling this statistical report and especially for making it available free to the industry.

True, they do not differentiate between 4K and UHD video, and nowhere does the VNI take into account the potential changes that the implementation of ATSC 3.0 may bring forth. But adding to our collective wisdom can only help clarify our vision of where the digital content creation industry is headed.

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