Middle East Ideally Placed to Advance Digital Businesses and Society, as Cisco Predicts Middle East and Africa Internet Users will Grow 1.6-Fold to 425 Million by 2019

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Cisco Visual Networking Index identifies key growth drivers as mobile access, demand for video services, and social networking

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – 28 June 2015 – The Middle East is ideally-placed to advance digital businesses and society, as total Internet users in the Middle East and Africa will grow 1.6-fold to 425 million by 2019, or 27 percent of the population, thanks to growing demand for mobile devices, video, and social networking, according to the 10th annual Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast 2015 launched today.

By 2019 there will be nearly 3.9 billion global Internet users (more than 51 percent of the world’s population), up from 2.8 billion in 2014.

In Middle East and Africa, IP traffic will grow 6-fold by 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 44%. Factors expected to drive traffic growth include global increases in Internet users, personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, faster broadband speeds, and the adoption of advanced video services.

Social networking will be the most highly-penetrated residential Internet service in the Middle East and Africa, with 176 million users, or used by 81 percent of total residential Internet users.

The MEA Trends:

  • Internet traffic will grow 6.8-fold from 2014 to 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 47%.
  • There will be 2.1 billion networked devices in 2019, up from 1.4 billion in 2014.
  • 78% of all networked devices will be mobile-connected in 2019.
  • M2M modules will account for 17% (358.9 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to 8% (112.1 million) in 2014.
  • Tablets will account for 4% (93.1 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to 2% (24.7 million) in 2014.
  • Smartphones will account for 31% (652.0 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to 14% (196.6 million) in 2014.
  • Connected TVs will account for 3% (69.4 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to 2% (23.8 million) in 2014.
  • Non-Smartphones will account for 38.3% (818.9 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to 68% (943.6 million) in 2014.
  • In Middle East and Africa, TVs accounted for 2% of total Internet traffic in 2014, and will be 2% of total Internet traffic in 2019.

Key Global IP Traffic and Service Predictions

Cisco predicts that several elements will shape IP traffic in the coming years:

  • More Internet Users – In 2014, there were 2.8 billion Internet users, or 39 percent of the world’s population of 7.2 billion. By 2019, there will be about 3.9 billion Internet users, or 51 percent of the world’s projected population of 7.6 billion (Source: Population Division of the Dept. of Economic & Social Affairs of the United Nations).
  • Proliferation of Devices and Connections – With 24 billion networked devices/connections expected online by 2019, compared with 14 billion in 2014, service provider networks must adapt to an influx of sophisticated devices. These devices include tablets, smartphones, and Internet-enabled ultra-high definition (UHD) TVs, as well as M2M connections and wearables (including new smart watches, health monitors, etc.)
  • Faster Fixed Broadband Speeds – Globally, the average fixed broadband speed will increase two-fold from 20.3 Mbps in 2014 to 42.5 Mbps in 2019. Year-over-year, the average global fixed broadband speed grew 26 percent from 16 Mbps in 2013 to 20.3 Mbps in 2014. From a regional perspective, Western Europe and Asia Pacific continue to lead the world in fixed broadband network speeds.
  • New and Advanced Video Services – IP video will account for 80 percent of all IP traffic by 2019, up from 67 percent in 2014. The evolution of advanced video services (e.g., UHD and spherical/360 video) and increasingly video centric M2M applications are anticipated to create new bandwidth and scalability requirements for service providers. Residential, business and mobile consumers continue to have strong demand for advanced video services across all network and device types, making quality, convenience, content/experience and price key success factors.
  • Mobility Momentum – By 2019, more than 14 percent of monthly IP traffic will derive from cellular connections, and 53 percent of monthly IP traffic will come from Wi-Fi connections globally, making differentiated and monetizable mobile strategies more important for all service providers.
  • The Internet of Everything (IoE) and M2M Growth – The IoE trend is showing tangible growth as M2M connections will more than triple over the next five years (growing to 10.5 billion by 2019). There will be significant IoE adoption across many business verticals (e.g., agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and transportation) as well as connected home deployments (i.e., video security, smart meters, lighting/temperature control, etc.). Connected Health consumer segment will have the fastest M2M connections growth at 8.6-fold (54 percent CAGR) from 2014 to 2019.
  • Gaming Impact – Cisco predicts a marked increase in network traffic associated with game downloads driven by availability of storage capacity on gaming consoles, an increase in upstream cloud traffic, and increasing fiber connections.
  • Advanced Service Adoption – Online music will be the fastest-growing residential Internet service with a CAGR of 7.7 percent from 2014-2019, growing from 1.2 billion users to 1.7 billion users by 2019. Mobile location-based service (LBS) will be the fastest growing consumer mobile service with a CAGR of 27.5 percent from 2014-19, growing from 597 million users in 2014 to over 2 billion users by 2019. Desktop and personal videoconferencing will be the fastest growing business Internet service with a CAGR of 23.5 percent from 2014-2019, growing from 76 million users in 2014 to 220 million users by 2019.

Supporting Quote

Fady Younes, Head of Service Providers, Cisco UAE

“As consumers, businesses and societies in the Middle East head towards the digital era with the Internet of Everything gaining momentum, VNI is even more relevant now in its 10th year than it was in its first. For our customers and the industry ecosystem as a whole, we look forward to continuing to report on these trends, the challenges they bring, and the immense opportunities ahead. We are entering into a very dynamic technological era and the rapid increase in connected devices will benefit a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, oil and gas, utilities, government, healthcare, sports and entertainment, education, in terms of increased efficiency, reduced costs, and, most important, improvement of the lives of citizens.”

Note to Editors:

Cisco VNI Methodology

The Cisco VNI Global Forecast and Service Adoption study for 2014 to 2019 rely upon independent analyst forecasts and real-world mobile data usage studies. Upon this foundation are layered Cisco's own estimates for global IP traffic and service adoption. A detailed methodology description is included in the complete report. Over its 10-year history, Cisco VNI research has become a highly regarded measure of the Internet's growth. National governments, network regulators, academic researchers, telecommunications companies, technology experts and industry/business press and analysts rely on the annual study to help plan for the digital future.

Cisco also welcomes press, analysts, bloggers, service providers, regulators and other interested parties to use and reference our research with proper attribution, such as “Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Traffic Forecast Update, 2014-2019.”


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