Moving towards the zettabyte era

According to a new report, annual global internet traffic will increase nearly fourfold between 2011 and 2016, moving us into the zettabyte era, writes Maryam Omidi.

What’s in a zettabyte? A million terabytes, a trillion gigabytes or, if you can wrap your head around it, 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. According to a new report from Cisco, annual global internet traffic between 2011 and 2016 will increase nearly fourfold, moving us into the zettabyte era.

There will be more internet traffic in 2016 than in all the years leading up to 2012, said Doug Webster, senior director for service provider marketing at Cisco. “Even your dog can now be connected to the internet, allowing you to track whether Rover is running after the collie or the postman,” he said.

One of the reasons for the spurt is the number of devices that will be connected to the internet, which Cisco predicts will be close to three times the global population in 2016. The number of internet users, which is expected to be 3.4 billion or 45% of the world’s population in 2016, is another factor. Users will increasingly be connected from TVs, tablets and smartphones, and internet traffic from these devices will grow by by 77%, 129% and 119% respectively. Given this growth, internet traffic from Wi-Fi sources will surpass that of wired devices.

Growth in video, which includes video-streamed gaming and videoconferencing, will drive most consumer internet traffic, reaching 86% of all traffic by 2016. In fact, online videos will be so commonplace that Cisco estimates it would take over six million years to watch the amount of video crossing global networks each month in 2016.

Luckily for internet users in 2016, the average broadband speed is expected to grow fourfold to 34Mbps from 9Mbps in 2011.

Globally, traffic is expected to grow fastest in the Middle East and Africa, at a compound annual growth rate of 58% between 2011 and 2016. The region is followed closely by Latin America, which is expected to increase by 49%. In contrast, North America will grow by 22% and western Europe by 27%.

So what comes after the zettabyte? The yottabyte. That’s quadrillion gigabytes or…1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 individual bytes.

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Comments (1)

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  1. I wish it had gone deeper into the relationship of growth in social networks as free speech channels and the growth of internet users and what they use it for. However it is good that it leaves enough space to reflect on the subject to avoid biases against or in favour of some countries as it remains as a platform for anyone to comment their own opinion, and even in their own language. We’ve seen the impact and controversy on Free Speech in countries where there have been revolts against the gatekeepers of communication such as Egypt and even in Venezuela when the government closed down the largest TV channel. However even leaders have had the obligation to join these social networks. Hugo Chavez is constantly critiqued for governing Venezuela through his Twitter account from Cuba.

    Nice one!

    (by the way, I wrote about this in my blog, feel free to look at it and message me freely: )

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