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A Global Perspective on Internet in 2015

CISCO has just published a global view of the Internet, 2010-2015. These forecasts are of sufficient interest to warrant a summary review.

Consumer Internet traffic (70,000 petabytes/month) will overwhelm business traffic (10,000 petabytes/month). Consequently firms that concentrate exclusively on the consumer segment, such as Apple, will have a marketing advantage.

The overwhelming amount of traffic, as defined in terms of petabytes transmitted per month, will be still conducted over wired Internet connections (59,000 petabytes/month, growing at a 32% a compound annual rate). Mobile data will have the highest average growth rate (92%), but in terms of capacity will be capable of handling only 6,000 petabytes/month.
From a geographic standpoint the highest growth rates in Internet traffic will be in Latin America (48%, 7,000 petabytes/month) and in Middle East and Africa (52%, 2,000 petabytes/month).  Internet traffic will shift to the Asia Pacific region (24,000 petabytes, 35% growth rate), followed closely by North America (22,000 petabytes/month, 26% annual growth rate).

The largest Internet segment, consumer traffic, will be dedicated to managing video communications (35,000 petabytes/month, growth rate of 48%). Traditional traffic, such as files sharing, web connectivity, e-mail and data mail will process only 22,000 petabytes/month, at a growth rate of 25%.

Perhaps the most dramatic change will take place with the adoption of Internet as the medium for transmitting video, which includes TV entertainment.  By 2015 1,500 billion customers will receive television video over the Internet, with largest growth taking place in China (502 million customers) and in the Middle East and Africa (193 million customers). This will be achieved through introduction of gigabit transmission channels directly to consumers.

There is no question that the Internet will continue to grow into the dominant global communication channel, not to be supplanted by other technologies. 

Mobile communication will grow extremely fast, but will not have the capacity to handle large volumes of traffic. The continued concentration on the wired Internet will favor the construction of cloud data centers that will act as the hubs for managing applications and storing files.

The consumer segment of the Internet will continue moving traffic to the video medium, which will shift from voice over IP to increased amounts of video calling. Such traffic will be transmitted over mobile channels as Latin America and Asia Pacific skips over investments into coaxial cables and move directly into wireless connectivity. The increased dependency on the delivery of TV over the Internet will accelerate this development.

The huge increase in the volume Internet processed data, measured in thousands of exabytes, will require a reexamination how data will be stored. Application-specific servers have only a limited capacity to manage the traffic to support video files as well as public cloud services.  As business and consumers increased their dependency on the Internet, uptime reliability can be safeguarded only through a redundancy of information processing sites.  Only through the installation of cloud computing data centers, that enjoy economies of scale, can that be accomplished.

Security will emerge as the key issue in shaping the Internet infrastructure. Global connectivity will enable the chance of a rapid spread of security corruptions of Internet-connected computing assets.  This would require the implementation of new measures for the regulation of Internet security on a global scale.  However, based on experience so far, it is unlikely this can happen. Government institutions are neither global nor responsive to tackling rapid technological change. It will take a consortium of globally dominant IT firms to forge agreements how to impose on the Internet and on the cloud operations new methods for dealing with security issues.

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