Cisco VNI, highlights and lessons

Cisco VNI
Image Source: Cisco Blogs

Cisco’s Virtual Networking Index (VNI) is a peak into IP traffic as seen by Cisco. VNI provides a historical view of traffic trends and a 5-year forecast. The 5-year forecast helps network planners design better network and build scale. The forecast also helps developers find trends in user behaviour.  VNI divides the globe into 6 regions; Asia-Pacific, North America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and finally the Middle East and Africa. We will focus on the Middle East and Africa region.

Cisco forecasts global traffic will pass the zettabyte threshold by the end of 2016. A zettabyte is approximately one billion terabytes or 250,000,000,000 720p HD movies. The forecasted traffic will be 1.1ZB per annum growing to 2ZB by 2020. To meet the growth, providers like Google, Facebook and Netflix are deploying their own infrastructure within providers networks, the deployments Content Delivery Networks (CDN). Traffic from CDNs will account for two-thirds of all IP traffic by 2020 or one and a half zettabyte. Providers in Zambia should actively engage owners of CDNs or build their own CDNs to make sure their network can meet the traffic demands. IP Traffic is growing fastest in Africa and the Middle East. The table below shows the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) and along with the expected volumes in 2019:

RegionCAGRTraffic (exabytes)
North America20%49.7
Western Europe21%24.7
Asia Pacific21%54
Latin America25%12
Central and Eastern Europe33%16
Middle East and Africa44%9.4

Middle East and Africa have the largest CAGR but the smallest overall volume. In 2019, we will still continue to lag behind the rest of the world despite a burgeoning population.

Looking at overall speeds the growth trends follow a similar path with the Middle East and Africa having the largest CAGR from 2014 to 2019 of 20% for fixed connectivity. Projected mobile network connectivity speeds also show similar trends with a CAGR 29% for the next 5 years.

2014 Speeds

RegionFixed (Mbps)Mobile (Mbps)
Asia Pacific20.32
Latin America23.21.3
North America7.22.8
Western Europe21.82
Central and Eastern Europe22.21.6
Middle East and Africa6.10.4

2019 Speeds

RegionFixed (Mbps)Mobile (Mbps)
Asia Pacific48.93.5
Latin America16.92.95
North America43.76.4
Western Europe49.14.69
Central and Eastern Europe45.33.67
Middle East and Africa14.92

Wireless and mobile traffic volumes will surpass wired traffic in 2016. This is a huge milestone. Machine 2 machine (M2M) will be the largest driver of wireless traffic accounting for 10.5 billion connections from the current 3.3 billion. Connected home applications, such as home automation, home security and video surveillance, connected goods, and tracking applications, will represent 48 percent, or nearly half, of the total M2M connections by 2019. Are you developing for the M2M boom? M2M traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 83%.

Being in Zambia, the internet is mobile. The majority of mobile traffic in 2020 will be video, growing 11.3 fold from 2 exabytes per month in 2015 to 23 exabytes in 2020. An exabyte is 1 million terabytes. Data consumption per mobile end-user device is going to grow from the current global average of 495MB to 3.3GB; a CAGR of 46%. Hopefully, our data bundles get a little healthier by then. Mobile network operators will now be forced to continuously revamp and update their infrastructure.  The number of mobile users is also expected to grow to more sedately at 2.6% CAGR from 4.8billion in 2015 to 5.5 billion in 2020. The following table highlights the average data volume consumed per mobile end-user device #makeourbundlesbigger

Region2015 (GB)2020 (GB)
Asia Pacific0.42.9
Latin America0.372.4
North America1.36.0
Western Europe0.84.5
Central and Eastern Europe0.926.7
Middle East and Africa0.232.5

The most interesting tidbit is a growth in the number of connections on Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA)  or LPWAN networks. LPWA connections will grow from the current 0.5% to 7.4% or 750 million devices by 2020. LPWA applications are suited for very low bit rate applications for example, power meter readings and grid management (turning off geysers). LPWA will be the network of choice for the Internet of Things; are you developing for it? For LPWA to succeed in Zambia and grow, we need ZICTA to start planning for it including spectrum allocation and license regulation that facilitates new entrants into the market.

Source: Cisco VNI

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