On May 30, Cisco released its annual "Visual Networking Index Forecast," projecting and analyzing global Internet growth and trends from 2011 to 2016. Cisco's Index provides a handy guide to understanding the basic landscape of the future global digital economy. Summarizing from its White Paper, Cisco's press release cites five factors in its forecasting that annual global IP traffic would reach 1.3 zettabytes by 2016, namely:
- An increasing number of devices: The proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, and other smart devices as well as machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are driving up the demand for connectivity. By 2016, the forecast projects there will be nearly 18.9 billion network connections―almost 2.5 connections for each person on earth, ― compared with 10.3 billion in 2011
- More Internet users: By 2016, there are expected to be 3.4 billion Internet users ― about 45 percent of the world's projected population according to United Nations estimates.
- Faster broadband speeds: The average fixed broadband speed is expected to increase nearly fourfold, from 9 megabits per second (Mbps) in 2011 to 34 Mbps in 2016.
- More video: By 2016, 1.2 million video minutes―the equivalent of 833 days (or over two years) ―would travel the Internet every second.
- Wi-Fi growth: By 2016, over half of the world's Internet traffic is expected to come from Wi-Fi connections.