Experts predict that this is what the global digital economy will look like by 2021

Research suggests IoT connections will increase by more than eight billion over the next four years, while video will represent 80% of all traffic

The digital economy is set to undergo a radical transformation over the next five years, with the number of internet users jumping to 4.6 billion; according to Cisco’s Visual Networking IndexTM (VNI) Complete Forecast.

Over the same period (2016 to 2021), there will be even greater adoption of personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, from 17.1 billion to 27.1 billion; while average broadband speed will increase from 27.5 Mbps to 53 Mbps and global IP traffic is predicted to witness a three-fold rise – from an annual run rate of 1.2 zettabytes to 3.3 zettabytes.

M2M services that support Internet of Things (IoT) innovations – which could increase from 5.8 billion in 2016 to 13.7 billion – such as connected home, connected healthcare and smart transportation – are expected to account for more than half of those 27.1 billion devices and connections and 5% of global IP traffic by 2021.

In the UK specifically, by 2021, IoT will account for 58% of all connections and there will be 9.4 networked devices per person – growing from 5.7 in 2016. At the same time, the gigabyte equivalent of every movie ever made is expected to cross the UK’s IP networks every 33 minutes in 2021 and gaming traffic will have multiplied by 12 (66% annual growth).

Already responsible for 67% of all IP traffic in 2016, video is likely to increase its domination of internet traffic to 80% over the next five years, with the number of video users rising by 500 million to 1.9 billion by 2021. This will result in an estimated three trillion internet video minutes per month, equating to an astonishing five million years of video.

Meanwhile, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will increase 20-fold – representing 1% of global entertainment traffic – and live internet videos will rise by a factor of 15 to account for 13% of all video traffic.

Growing access to Wi-Fi will have a major part to play in the changing digital landscape: total Wi-Fi homespots will grow from 85 million in 2016 to 526.2 million by 2021 and Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 73% of internet traffic.

Yvette Kanouff, senior vice president and general manager of service provider business at Cisco, commented:

“As global digital transformation continues to impact billions of consumers and businesses, the network and security will be essential to support the future of the Internet.”

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