Global Internet Protocol traffic will reach an annual rate of 1.3 zettabytes in 2016 as more people connect more devices and download more video over the Internet, according to Cisco Systems.
With global IP traffic surpassing the zettabyte (1 billion terabyte) threshold, there will be more Internet traffic in 2016 than in all years up to 2012, said Doug Webster, senior director for service provider marketing at Cisco.
"It is just a staggering amount of growth facing global networks," he said during the unveiling of Cisco's Visual Networking Index Forecast for 2011 to 2016.
The Internet traffic in 2016, at 110 exabytes per month, will be 10 times the traffic in 2008, Webster said. Global IP traffic in 2011 was about 369 exabytes, or 0.369 zettabytes.
By 2016, there will be nearly 18.9 billion devices connected to the Internet - 2.5 devices for every person on earth - up from 10.3 billion connected devices in 2011. Part of the growth will come from devices like television sets and electric meters that haven't traditionally connected to the Internet, Webster said.
"Even your dog can now be connected to the Internet, allowing you to track whether Rover is running after the collie or the postman," he said.
In 2016, PCs will generate 81 percent of consumer Internet traffic, down from 94 percent in 2011.
Cisco predicted there will be 3.4 billion Internet users in 2016, about 45 percent of the world's population. About 2.3 billion people will have fixed broadband service in 2016, up from 1.7 billion in 2011. There will be about 3.7 billion mobile users in 2016, including those who don't have data plans, Cisco said.
The average fixed broadband speed will rise from the current 9 Mbps to 34 Mbps in 2016, the company said.
Video traffic will be a major area of growth, with mobile device users expecting a similar quality as they get on wired PCs or TV sets, Webster said. There will be 1.5 billion Internet video users in 2016, up from 792 million in 2011. About 1.2 million[m] video minutes - the equivalent of 833 days of video - will cross the Internet every second in 2016, according to Cisco. Internet video will make up 54 percent of all consumer traffic in 2016.
The highest traffic-generating countries in 2016 will be the US, with 22 exabytes per month, and China, with 12 exabytes per month. Internet traffic in India, Brazil and South Africa will grow by a compounded rate of more than 50 percent a year between 2011 and 2016, the company said.
Growth in mobile data traffic will lead to the increases in India, Webster said. Global mobile data traffic will increase 18 times between 2011 and 2016, to 10.8 exabytes per month
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the US government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is email@example.com.