The Internet is made up of thousands of public and private networks around the world. And since it came to life in 1984, more than 4.7 zettabytes of IP traffic have flowed across it. That’s the same as all the movies ever made crossing global IP networks in less than a minute.

Yet the new Visual Networking Index (VNI) by Cisco predicts that is just the beginning. By 2022, more IP traffic will cross global networks than in all prior ‘Internet years’ combined up to the end of 2016. In other words, more traffic will be created in 2022 than in the 32 years since the Internet started. Where will that traffic come from? All of us, our machines and the way we use the Internet. By 2022, 60 percent of the global population will be Internet users. More than 28 billion devices and connections will be online. And video will make up 82 percent of all IP traffic.

“The size and complexity of the Internet continues to grow in ways that many could not have imagined,” said Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager, Service Provider Business, Cisco. “Since we first started the VNI Forecast in 2005, traffic has increased 56-fold, amassing a 36 percent CAGR with more people, devices and applications accessing IP networks. Global service providers are focused on transforming their networks to better manage and route traffic, while delivering premium experiences. Our ongoing research helps us gain and share valuable insights into technology and architectural transitions our customers must make to succeed.”

Cisco’s VNI looks at the impact users, devices and other trends will have on global IP networks over a five-year period. From 2017 to 2022, Cisco predicts the following: global IP traffic will triple, reaching 396 exabytes per month by 2022, up from 122 exabytes per month in 2017, and the busiest hour of Internet traffic will be six times more active than the average; global Internet users will make up 60 percent of the world’s population, with 4.8 billion Internet users by 2022; global networked devices and connections will reach 28.5 billion, with more than half of all devices and connections being machine-to-machine by 2022; global broadband, Wi-Fi and mobile speeds will double or more; video, gaming and multimedia will make up more than 85 percent of traffic, with IP video traffic quadrupling, gaming traffic growing nine-fold and virtual and augmented reality traffic skyrocketing from 0.33 exabytes/ month in 2017 to 4.02 exabytes/ month in 2022. 

The Cisco Complete VNI Forecast includes global, regional and country-level projections and trends associated with fixed and mobile networks. The full report includes additional information and analysis on IoT by industry vertical, IPv6 adoption, traffic growth by application, traffic patterns, cord cutting implications, Wi-Fi hotspots, broadband network performance and network security issues.