Q. Why did Cisco develop the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (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 Cisco, 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 and collaboration (such as Web 2.0 technologies), the combination of which is termed visual networking. A visual networking experience can range from a prearranged Cisco TelePresence® meeting to the delivery of video to any device a consumer chooses, such as a TV, PC, or mobile handset.
Q. When did Cisco begin forecasting global IP traffic?
A. Cisco began the Visual Networking Index in 2006. In that year the company published its report internally, but shared the forecast and projections with customers and prospects. Based on the interest in and impact of the initial report, Cisco began releasing its findings publicly in 2007.
Q. What is the methodology behind the Visual Networking Index Forecast?
A. 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 Kagan, Ovum, Informa, IDC, Gartner, ABI, AMI, Strategy Analytics, Infonetics, Dell'Oro, Synergy, Screen Digest, Parks Associates, Pyramid, comScore, Nielsen, Arbitron Mobile, DisplaySearch, Media Partners Asia, Machina, 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. The following enhancements have been incorporated into the methodology since the last update:
• Country-level forecasts for Indonesia, Spain, Argentina, and Chile have been added to the forecast. They were included in the "Rest of Asia Pacific," "Rest of Western Europe," and "Rest of Latin America" categories in the previous forecast updates.
• Consumer and business cloud traffic estimates are now reported separately within the respective consumer and business portions of the global IP traffic forecast.
• There is greater detail on business traffic by application, with a focus on business video.
Q. Have you changed your assumptions in the latest forecast update?
A. When the Cisco VNI Forecast is updated, it reflects changes that have been made to all of the underlying analyst data that serve as inputs to our research. Any changes in analyst forecasts will be reflected in the IP traffic figures that we publish. In addition to updating the underlying analyst forecasts, Cisco will continue to adjust connection and usage assumptions in response to changing consumer behavior.
Q. What is the future outlook for IP traffic growth based on the updated forecast?
A. By 2016 we will have entered the zettabyte era (see Figure 1). Major findings of the Cisco VNI Global Forecast, 2011-2016, include the following.
• Globally, IP traffic will grow nearly fourfold from 2011 to 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29 percent.
• Globally, IP traffic will reach 110 exabytes per month in 2016, the equivalent of 38 million DVDs each hour.
• Globally, IP traffic will reach an annual run rate of 1.3 zettabytes by the end of 2016, up from an annual run rate of 369 exabytes at the end of 2011.
• Asia Pacific will generate the most IP traffic by 2016 (41 exabytes per month).
• Middle East and Africa will be the fastest-growing IP traffic region from 2011 to 2016 (tenfold growth, 58 percent CAGR over the forecast period). Latin America will be the second fastest-growing region (sevenfold growth, 49 percent CAGR) in this category.
• By 2016, non-PC devices will account for 30 percent of total IP traffic, demonstrating the impact of web-enabled TVs, tablets, and smartphones on the way consumers access and use the Internet.
• Mobile data traffic will be over 10 percent of global IP traffic by 2016, growing from 2 percent of global IP traffic in 2011.
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. However, last year's Cisco VNI projections have aligned with several actual growth reports from independent third parties.
• Telegeography reported that global average international Internet traffic grew 37 percent in 2011. The Cisco VNI Internet traffic growth rates for the primary countries included in VNI ranged from 30 percent to 50 percent for 2011, which is consistent with the Telegeography findings.
• Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced that Japan's total broadband download traffic (not including mobile, business, and consumer-managed IP) grew 24 percent from November 2010 to November 2011. Cisco VNI estimates IP traffic in Japan will have a CAGR of 24 percent in coming years.
Q. Why isn't the projected global IP traffic growth rate as high as it has been in previous forecasts?
A. The updated global IP growth rate is not as high as in previous forecasts, but this is not a traffic reduction-it is a standard function of sigmoid curve (or S-curve) modeling. The initial stages of growth can be exponential, but that pace cannot continue indefinitely. However in real terms, top-level traffic growth represents a huge amount of traffic. For example, the difference between the Cisco VNI Forecast for 2015 (an annual run rate of 1.1 zettabytes) and the Cisco VNI Forecast for 2016 (an annual run rate of 1.3 zettabytes) is about 200 exabytes, which is 20 times larger than the monthly global IP traffic generated in 2008 (10 exabytes).
Q. How do you define your major application categories?
A. The following are the major application categories and corresponding definitions within our Cisco VNI framework.
• File sharing includes peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic from all recognized P2P systems such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, and other means of file sharing and one-click file hosting (for example, Rapidshare).
• Voice over IP (VoIP) includes traffic from retail VoIP services and PC-based VoIP, but excludes wholesale VoIP transport. This category includes phone-based VoIP services obtained directly from a service provider, phone-based VoIP services offered by a third party but transported by a service provider, and softphone-based Internet VoIP applications such as Skype.
• Online gaming includes casual online gaming, networked console gaming, and multiplayer virtual world gaming. This category includes only the traffic generated from actual game play. The download of the game is included in the web and data category.
• Internet video-to-PC includes online video that is downloaded or streamed for viewing on a PC screen. It excludes peer-to-peer downloads and is distinct from 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 (for example, movies and TV episodes) as well as short-form content (for example, 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.
• Video communications include Internet video calling, video instant messaging, video monitoring, and webcam traffic.
• Web and data include web browsing, email, instant messaging, newsgroups, and file transfer (excluding P2P and commercial file transfer such as iTunes). This is a general category that encompasses data transfer (including file transfer using HTTP and FTP) and other Internet applications.
• Video on demand (VoD) is managed IP transport (traffic that remains within the footprint of a single service provider) generated by traditional commercial TV services, including standard-definition, high-definition, and three-dimensional (3D) cable and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) VoD.
Q. Which specific applications are covered in the IP traffic forecast?
A. The following applications are covered in our major application categories:
• Web and data:
– Web and data
– Software updates
– Internet VoIP
– Dedicated VoIP
– Mobile Internet voice
– IPTV VoD
– Cable VoD
– Cable hybrid IP VoD
– Desktop videoconferencing
– Executive videoconferencing
– Single-screen room videoconferencing
– Multiscreen room videoconferencing
– Video phones
– Web conferencing with video
• Video calling:
– Fixed Internet video calling
– Mobile Internet video calling
• Online gaming:
– Fixed online gaming
– Mobile Internet gaming
• Internet video:
– Short-form video
– Internet personal video recorder (PVR) video
– Ambient video
– Long-form video
– Live video
– Internet video-to-TV
– Mobile Internet video
• File sharing:
– P2P file sharing
– Other file sharing
– Mobile file sharing
• Business-managed IP:
– 1 to 999 employees
– 1000+ employees
• Business Internet:
– 1 to 999 employees
– 1000+ employees
Q. Why is VoIP traffic so low?
A. While immensely popular, VoIP is very lightweight in terms of bandwidth. However, VoIP is an important consideration for service providers in that quality of service (QoS) is important for voice, and one strategy for improving QoS is to increase capacity so that there is always sufficient bandwidth for the speedy transport of time-sensitive voice and video traffic.
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 traffic figures reflect both downlink and uplink. To avoid double-counting, we excluded uplink P2P, VoIP, instant messaging, and video calling. In other words, we excluded 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 on how Internet traffic has developed historically?
Q. Why is broadcast TV traffic so low in comparison to VoD traffic?
A. Broadcast traffic is low because it is a one-to-many service rather than a one-to-one service, like VoD. For each VoD request, a new stream must be served, whereas when hundreds of people tune in to the same television show, only one copy of this show needs to cross most of the network until near the edge, where it is split and sent over each access line. In this forecast, the access-line traffic for broadcast TV is not included.
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 any significant difference. However, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers are now deploying set-top services that simulate VoD by sending the top 25 programs to the set-top boxes overnight and supporting on-demand access to less popular content through the subscriber's Internet connection. This on-demand streaming is certain to have an impact on traffic in the future, and 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 I or my organization or company use or publish Cisco VNI Forecast data?
A. Yes. Cisco welcomes and encourages press, analysts, service providers, and other interested industry parties (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, 2011-2016"). No further signatures or consent are required to reference 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Can you share the application-level traffic data and country-level data you used to construct the regional traffic figures?
A. We are not able to share the specific source data that serves as a primary input to our forecast methodology, but we have developed an interactive tool that generates customized Cisco VNI data based on user requirements. The Cisco VNI Forecast Tool is an online resource that is publicly available. You can generate your own Cisco VNI Forecast charts based on segment, region or country, or other parameters. The forecast tool is available at www.ciscovni.com/vni_forecast/index.htm. We also have an advanced highlights tool. This tool generates important projections from the IP traffic and mobile data traffic forecast for each region and country covered by the research (see www.cisco.com/web/solutions/sp/vni/vni_forecast_highlights/index.html).
Q. Where can I ask questions about the Cisco VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast data?