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The Internet According to Cisco

By Greg Scoblete

Every year, the networking behemoth Cisco releases their "Visual Networking Index" -- think of it as a snapshot of where the Internet is, and where it's going. This year's report, released today, is full of interesting facts about the trajectory of the Internet and what we're doing with it. Here's what we've learned:

Most of the World Will Be On It

In 2013, 2.5 billion people used the Internet, but by 2018 that number will soar to four billion, or a little more than half of the world's expected population. Correspondingly, global IP traffic will grow three-fold to 131.6 Exabytes per month in 2018, up from 51.2 Exabytes per month in 2013 (that shakes out to 4.3 Exabytes per day in 2018).

In laymen's terms, the equivalent of all movies ever made will cross the world's IP networks every three minutes.

We'll Be Watching a Lot of Video

According to Cisco, almost all of the IP traffic crossing global networks -- some 79 percent in 2018 -- will be video (they didn't break out a cat video percentage of the total, but we assume it's a lot). Indeed, according to Cisco,"it would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2018. Every second, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network by 2018."

We'll also be using our TVs to watch a lot more of this IP video. "Internet video to TV will be 14 percent of consumer Internet video traffic in 2018, up from 11 percent in 2013," according to Cisco.

More Things Than People Will Connect to It & It Will Get Faster

Already far more devices than people connect to the Internet (some 12 billion in 2013). By 2018, that trend will continue with 21 billion networked devices connected to the Internet. Global fixed-line Internet speeds are also going to enjoy significant growth moving from an average of 16Mbps to 42Mbps.

PCs Will Shrink in Relevance

While personal computers were the overwhelming method of connecting to the Internet in 2013, responsible for 86 percent of traffic, the PC will shrink to just 50.5 percent in 2018. Smartphones, tablets, and Internet-connected TVs will occupy and increasingly larger role in our Internet lives (no surprise there).

Greg Scoblete (@GregScoblete) is the editor of RealClearTechnology and an editor on RealClearWorld. He is the co-author of From Fleeting to Forever: A Guide to Enjoying and Preserving Your Digital Photos and Videos.

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