Q. Why did Cisco develop the Cisco Visual Networking Index
™ (Cisco VNI
™) Forecast and methodology?
A. The ramifications of prior Internet traffic growth rates prompted Cisco to provide a realistic forecast that is based on multiple levels and sources of real data and projections. This data is of great interest to us, but we also expect that our customers (in all segments) and the industry at large can benefit from our findings.
Q. What is visual networking?
A. Consumer and business IP networking trends are largely generated by video and by social networking, along with collaboration, such as Web 2.0 technologies. This combination is termed visual networking. A visual networking experience can range from a telepresence meeting to the delivery of video to any device a consumer chooses, such as a TV, PC tablet, or smartphone.
Q. When did Cisco begin forecasting global IP traffic?
A. The Cisco VNI began in 2006. In that year the company published its report internally, but also shared the forecast and projections with customers and prospects. Based on the interest in and effects of the initial report, Cisco began releasing these findings publicly in 2007.
Q. What is the methodology behind the Cisco VNI Forecast?
The forecast relies on analyst projections for Internet users, broadband connections, video subscribers, mobile connections, and Internet application adoption. Our trusted analyst forecasts come from SNL Kagan, Ovum, Ookla Speedtest.net, IDC, IHS, Future Source, Gartner, AMI, Strategy Analytics, Dell’Oro, Synergy, comScore, Nielsen, Media Partners Asia, Machina, Verto Analytics, Maravedis, and a variety of other sources.
In addition, a number of service providers share network traffic data and trends with Cisco, and this data is used to validate and adjust the usage assumptions underlying the forecast model.
Q. Have there been any methodological changes since the last forecast update?
A. There have been no substantial changes to the methodology since the last update.
Q. Were there any changes to the basic assumptions or key influences on IP traffic used in the latest forecast update?
A. There have been no substantial changes to the basic assumptions or primary influences in the latest forecast update.
M2M (machine-to-machine) continues to lead the growth in devices and connections globally. We continue to see a worldwide slowdown in the PC segment and growth in smartphones. There is a global increase in speeds for both fixed and mobile networks, and video continues to be the main contributor to IP traffic growth.
For the first time, we are assessing the influence of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and other security concerns on global IP traffic. From an application perspective, we have also begun to parse video/multimedia applications in more detail (for example, video surveillance, virtual reality, and so on).
Q. What’s the difference between IP traffic and Internet traffic?
A. The Cisco VNI IP traffic forecast encompasses both Internet and managed IP or non-Internet IP traffic. “Internet traffic” includes all IP traffic that crosses an Internet backbone, often traversing networks operated by different service providers and content delivery network providers. “Managed IP traffic” is limited to IP traffic that is managed from origin to destination by a single service provider, crossing only a single network. Managed IP traffic includes the IP transport of consumer video on demand (VoD), as well as corporate IP WAN traffic. Many forecast metrics vary significantly, depending on whether they include managed IP traffic or Internet-only traffic. For example, we project that Wi-Fi traffic will represent 50 percent of total global IP traffic (which
includes managed IP) by 2020. Comparatively, we estimate that Wi-Fi traffic will represent 59 percent of total global Internet traffic (which
excludes managed IP) by 2020. The lower Wi-Fi percentage for overall IP is due to the prevalence of wired devices, such as set-top boxes, that generate IP VoD traffic.
Q. Have you changed any historic traffic projections in the latest forecast update?
A. Each year, we use what we believe to be the most accurate data and methodology possible to update the forecast. The following changes have been made since the last forecast:
A volume adjustment was made for Latin America. Volume adjustments apply to both past and future values, preserve growth rates, and do not represent a change in estimates of past growth or expectations of future growth. They are made to improve the accuracy of traffic totals based on the availability of new measurements, such as more comprehensive and granular traffic measures being reported by these countries. The adjustment to Latin American traffic volumes resulted in a 16 percent reduction. Based on these adjustments, historical Latin American IP traffic totals for 2014 are lower than reported last year, though 2014 growth remains consistent with previous estimates.
Q. What is the future outlook for IP traffic growth based on the updated forecast?
A. In general, there is a slight increase in the global growth rate, compared to previous years’ expectations. Most regions either saw an increase in or a leveling of growth rates. As mobile becomes a significant percentage of total IP traffic (4 percent of global IP traffic in 2015, growing to 14 percent of global IP traffic by 2020), the overall growth rates begin to reflect the higher growth rates of the mobile segment.
By 2020, we will be firmly established in the double zettabyte era (Figure 1). Major findings of the Cisco VNI Global Forecast, 2015–2020, include the following:
● Globally, IP traffic will grow nearly threefold from 2015 to 2020, a CAGR of 22 percent.
● Globally, IP traffic will reach 194.4 exabytes per month in 2020, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made crossing global IP networks every 2 minutes.
● Globally, IP traffic will reach an annual run rate of 2.3 zettabytes by the end of 2020, up from an annual run rate of 870.3 exabytes at the end of 2015.
● Asia Pacific will generate 35 percent of global IP traffic by 2020 (67.8 exabytes per month), the highest share. It will take the global highest traffic share lead (surpassing North America) by 2017. The Middle East and Africa will be the fastest-growing IP traffic region from 2015 to 2020 (nearly 6-fold growth, 41 percent CAGR over the forecast period). Central and Eastern Europe will be the second fastest-growing region (over 3-fold growth, 27 percent CAGR) in this category.
● By 2020, non-PC devices will account for 71 percent of total IP traffic, demonstrating the effect of web‑enabled TVs, tablets, and smartphones on the way consumers access and use the Internet.
● Mobile data traffic will be over 16 percent of global IP traffic by 2020, growing from 5 percent of global IP traffic in 2015.
Q. What is an exabyte? What is a zettabyte?
A. An exabyte is 1,000,000,000 gigabytes. A zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes. Figure 1 shows examples of data that reaches the exabyte and zettabyte scale.
Figure 1. The Zettabyte Scale
Q. How accurate is your forecast?
A. The Cisco VNI forecast has been characterized as conservative by some industry analysts and academicians. In general, the actual growth rate has been within 10 percent of the projected growth rate. In 2011, we projected that the growth rate from 2010 to 2015 would be 31.8 percent. We now estimate that the actual growth rate for that time frame was 31.6 percent.
Q. How do you define your major application categories?
A. The following major application categories and corresponding definitions are used within our Cisco VNI framework.
● File sharing includes peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic from all recognized P2P systems, such as BitTorrent and eDonkey, along with other means of file sharing and one-click file hosting (for example, Rapidshare).
● Internet video to PC includes online video that is downloaded or streamed for viewing on a PC screen. It does not include P2P downloads or Internet delivery of video to a TV screen through a set-top box or equivalent device. Internet video viewed on PCs includes a growing volume of long-form commercial content, such as movies and TV episodes, as well as short-form content such as free user-generated clips.
● Internet video to TV includes video delivered by the Internet to a TV screen, through an Internet-enabled set-top box or equivalent device. Examples of devices and services that deliver this type of content include web-enabled TVs and Blu-ray disc players, Roku boxes, Apple TV, and gaming consoles that allow users to download movies and broadcast television content.
● Web and data include web browsing, email, instant messaging, newsgroups, and file transfer, but they do not include P2P and commercial file transfer such as iTunes. This general category encompasses data transfer (including file transfer using HTTP and FTP) and other Internet applications.
● Video on demand is managed IP transport (traffic that remains within the footprint of a single service provider) generated by traditional commercial TV services, including standard definition (SD), high definition (HD), and three-dimensional (3D) cable and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) VoD.
Q. Is there a way to customize this forecast for a specific set of variables?
Yes, we have two tools—one for fixed networks (CT-SPAN:
) and the other for mobile networks (M-SPAN:
)—that can generate customized forecasts based on inputs you specify. These tools use Cisco VNI assumptions for defaults and can take user inputs for a user-customized forecast.
Q. Does this forecast include signaling traffic?
A. No, signaling traffic is not included. However, an estimate can be made using the standard rule that IP signaling traffic is approximately 3 percent of bearer traffic.
Q. Are traffic patterns becoming more symmetric over time?
A. No, we have observed that, despite the increase in consumer uploading of user-generated content and content providers making longer-form content available online, the amount of downloading still exceeds uploading, and traffic patterns are increasingly asymmetric.
Q. Does the forecast include both uplink and downlink traffic?
A. For most services, the figures reflect both downlink and uplink traffic. To avoid double-counting, we excluded uplink P2P, VoIP, instant messaging, and video calling. In other words, we did not include uplink traffic for any application where one person’s upload is another person’s download. Uploads to servers (for example, YouTube) are included, however.
Q. Cisco VNI appears to be focused on forward-looking data. Is there data showing how IP and Internet traffic have developed historically?
A. Yes, we have historical data for global and regional Internet traffic going back to 2005. We are able to segment our historical views by fixed/wired, mobile, or total traffic (includes consumer and business Internet traffic, but it does not include traffic on business IP WANs and private and mobile networks). We can also distinguish historical traffic by Internet, non-Internet (just managed IP), or both of those categories together.
Q. What about satellite video traffic?
A. Because satellite is similar to broadcast, in that it is a one-to-many service, the exclusion of satellite from the forecast is not expected to make a significant difference. However, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers are now deploying set-top box services that simulate VoD. They send the top 25 programs to the set-top boxes overnight and support on-demand access to less-popular content through the subscriber’s Internet connection. This on‑demand streaming is certain to have an effect on traffic in the future, and it has been factored into the assumptions for Internet video.
Q. What about digital terrestrial video traffic?
A. Like satellite, digital terrestrial television (DTT) is a one-to-many service, so the exclusion of DTT is not expected to materially affect the accuracy of the forecast. Also like satellite providers, pay-DTT providers may establish a broadband connection to the home so that they can offer on-demand content, Internet content, and interactive content. This scenario has not been included in this forecast, because the penetration of DTT remains low throughout the forecast period. DTT may be included in future versions of the forecast.
Q. Can you share the application-level traffic data and country-level data you used to construct the regional traffic figures?
VNI Service Adoption Forecast
Q. What is the Cisco Visual Networking Index (Cisco VNI) Service Adoption Forecast, and what is the relevance of the data it provides?
Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast
projects the global and regional adoption rates of select residential, consumer mobile, and business services and applications, as well as the underlying addressable markets (subscribers and users) and relevant devices and connections that support the projections. This study includes forward-looking estimates of the penetration rates for 24 select end-user applications and services in three primary user categories: residential, consumer mobile, and business.
Table 1 lists the 24 services by segment that are covered in this research.
Table 1. Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast Categories and Services
Consumer Mobile Services
Consumer Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
Consumer mobile email
Video on demand (VoD)
Voice over IP (VoIP)
Web conferencing without video
Business IP telephony
Mobile social networking
Business mobile LBS
Consumer mobile location-based services (LBS)
Business mobile email
Business mobile Short Message Service (SMS)
Q. How does the Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast relate to other Cisco thought-leadership programs?
A. The Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast is closely aligned with the Cisco VNI fixed and mobile IP traffic forecasts, which focus on global network bandwidth consumption, and the Cisco
® Global Cloud Index (GCI), which forecasts cloud-based IP traffic growth. The service adoption and traffic studies are both based on the same global and regional estimates for population, network users and subscribers, and devices and connections.
Q. What are the criteria for selecting the services included in the Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast?
A. The Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast focuses on services that have a bottom-line effect on the service provider networks, through their monetization potential, through their network or infrastructure provisioning and maintenance cost implications, or through both monetization and costs. For all these services, service provider networks are crucial to delivery and to providing an optimal end-user experience, even though the applications or content might not be provided by the carrier. The selected services represent a range of end-user applications, from highly penetrated services, such as digital television and business SMS, to high-growth next-generation services, such as desktop video conferencing and mobile location-based services.
Q. What methodology and data sources are used for the Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast?
A. The Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast follows a rigorous methodology to estimate and forecast advanced service and device adoption by end users around the world. The research makes use of a variety of data sources:
● Publicly available data from international and national institutions, such as the United Nations Department of Population, International Labor Organization (ILO), and World Bank
● Regulatory and government reports (ministries of information such as CNNIC, NIC.br, ACMA, and OfCom)
● Independent research and survey data from experienced research firms such as IDC, IHS, Gartner, Machina Research, Media Partners Asia, IHS/Screen Digest, Strategy Analytics, SNL Kagan, comScore, Ovum, and Wainhouse Research
Cisco VNI analysts have developed and applied extensive data modeling techniques to analyze both supply-side data, such as shipments of technology products, and demand-side data, such as user adoption and preferences. This approach provides a consistent and reliable means for predicting how global and regional populations, addressable markets, devices and connections, and service adoption rates will grow over the forecast period.
The Cisco VNI SA Forecast begins with estimates of total population, households, and workers, globally and for six regions (North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific), as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Cisco VNI SA Forecast Parameters: Outside-In Approach
Next, analysts identify global and regional addressable markets for each of the following primary user categories:
● Residential (TV households and fixed Internet users)
● Consumer mobile (mobile subscribers)
● Business (business Internet users and business mobile subscribers)
Finally, analysts forecast the penetration rates of 24 specific services and applications globally and regionally in the context of the applicable population and addressable market parameters. Table 1 lists the Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast categories and services.
Q. Why does the Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast include devices and connections forecast data?
A. An important influence on services adoption is the global proliferation of devices and connections across mobile and fixed networks, as well as across consumer and business segments. Providing devices and connections forecast data helps promote the understanding of market trends that influence services adoption growth.
Q. Were any changes made to the basic assumptions or significant service adoption influences in the latest forecast update?
A. The forecast itself was updated and the numbers revised based on the latest research data available. However, no changes in basic assumptions or categorization were made this year.
Q. What other Cisco VNI Service Adoption Forecast resources are available?
● Highlights tool: Learn more about the main population, service adoption, and device trends across regions.
● Graphing tool: Create custom visualizations of Cisco VNI Service Adoption data to export for articles and reports.
● Services gauge: Compare the bandwidth requirements of select advanced services.
● Case studies: See how global service providers are delivering innovative services in their unique markets.
Further details about service adoption trends across the three segments of residential, consumer mobile, and business are included in the consolidated VNI whitepaper “The Zettabyte Era—Trends and Analysis.”
Q. Can my organization or I use or publish Cisco VNI Forecast data?
Yes. Cisco welcomes and encourages press, analysts, service providers, and other interested industry parties, whether business, regulatory, or academic, to use or publish the data. Cisco VNI projections have been cited in equity and investment research, S-1 registration statements, initial public offering (IPO) and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and offering memorandums. We have shared our publicly published data with government regulators, press, industry analysts, academic institutions, technical conferences, journals, and other media outlets. We do require that proper Cisco attribution be given for any and all Cisco VNI data that is published or shared in private or public, print and electronic forms (for example, “Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index [or VNI] Global IP Traffic Forecast, 2015–2020”). No further signatures or consent are required to refer to our publicly available white papers, reports, or web-based tools. We are always interested in the context in which our data is used and would appreciate it if parties that use our content would share copies of their completed work containing Cisco VNI insertions. Please send these to
Q. How can I ask questions about the Cisco VNI Forecast?
For More Information
For more information, refer to www.cisco.com/go/vni. Inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also submit questions or comments to our feedback section at www.cisco.com/go/vni.