Sometimes we get so used to talking about how popular video is, and how fast it's growing online, that we actually lose perspective a bit on exactly how rapidly it's moving. You might even say we've been taking the Internet for granted a bit. Because, if Cisco's predictions are anywhere close to correct, our obsessive use of online video is going to cripple the Internet in just a few short years.
Cisco today released their annual Visual Networking Index–a report on the state of Internet traffic as well as a forecast for the near future. If you have a free afternoon, go read it and prepare to have it break your brain. Some of these statistics and numbers are just nearly impossible to comprehend. Bottom line: we're going to have to rethink some things about wireless Internet in about four years, or we might just break the whole thing.
I'll break down Cisco's findings by topic:
Overall Internet Growth
First things first… the Internet is growing… at least in terms of traffic. Here's a chart that should sufficiently impress you and blow your mind:
Notice that the expected growth in traffic from 2014 to 2015 is equal to the entire traffic amount for last year. That's… astounding.
Lots of factors are affecting this, such as the continued spread of broadband and other high speed Internet service to areas previously uncovered, the rise of mobile device browsing, etc.
But on the whole, we're almost increasing Internet use exponentially, and Cisco's point is that it's going to get unmanageable in a real hurry if we don't do something.
Mobile & Tablet Growth
One of the main factors in this massive growth of Internet usage is mobile computing–smart phones and tablet devices that are allowing us to do more than ever online… while on the go.
Just how fast is mobile browsing growing?
And if that's not staggering enough, check out the rapid rise of tablet devices:
The Real Culprit: Video
Of course, the biggest reason we're using so much more bandwidth is online video. Because more consumers demand video, and more businesses offer it, it's the single content variety most responsible for the pressing issues Cisco is warning us about.
Take a look at this chart regarding online video's growth:
Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering what kind of video makes up the bulk of this growth… because, after all, there are multiple varieties of online video, and some have to be growing more than others.
Thankfully, Cisco has a chart for that as well, and it's pretty interesting:
Now, remember, this is a forecast… these are predictions of online video bandwidth for the year 2015, varying by format. Notice how large a slice of the pie we are on track to devote to television and movie viewing online.
Cisco thinks we need some rapid ingenuity in the world of wireless signals. And that 4G adoption by consumers will need to be hurried along. And even if you take these numbers (predictions, really) with a grain of salt, you can't deny we're using more and more bandwidth every day, and the growth shows no signs of stopping.
And video is the single biggest catalyst for this growth–this CNN article says that by 2015, 1 million minutes of video will cross the Internet every second. In a way, you could say that video is so popular it threatens to break the Internet, though I somehow think Cisco and other smart companies will find a way to save us from that apocalyptic nightmare.