For the first time in 10 years, peer-to-peer file-sharing applications will not represent the biggest chunk of Internet bandwidth usage in 2010 -- instead, video will be the No. 1 source of traffic worldwide this year, according to Cisco Systems' third annual Visual Networking Index Forecast.
More than 1 billion users worldwide will be watching online video by the end of 2010, according to Cisco. Overall, the amount of global Internet traffic will increase more than fourfold between 2009 and 2014, with video to exceed 91% of global consumer IP traffic by then.
The increasing popularity of HDTV and 3DTV are key factors driving the growth, said Doug Webster, senior director of service provider marketing. By 2014, 3D and HD video are expected to comprise 42% of total consumer Internet video traffic.
"There's huge demand for these [video] services," Webster said. "It's going to be up the providers to find new ways to deliver and monetize that."
File-sharing applications, while losing relative share, will still generate considerable traffic. Cisco's VNI forecasts global file-sharing traffic will reach 11 exabytes per month in 2014, a 22% compound annual growth rate from 2009-2014. By 2014, global P2P traffic will be 17% of global consumer Internet traffic, down from 36% in 2009.
Video applications, including videoconferencing, will grow much faster. In 2014, 72 million years' worth of video will traverse IP networks, according to Cisco's forecast -- meaning it would take someone two years to watch the amount of video expected to cross IP networks every second by then.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast, 2009-2014, projects global Internet traffic will increase to 767 exabytes, or more than three-quarters of a "zettabyte," by 2014. That's 100 exabytes higher than the projected level in 2013, or an increase the equivalent of 10 times all the traffic traversing Internet Protocol networks in 2008.
The Cisco VNI Forecast, first introduced in 2008, is compiled based on third-party analyst sources validated with data provided by service providers worldwide.
As part of the 2010 forecast, Cisco is releasing again the VNI Forecast widget, available at http://ciscovni.com/vni_forecast, to provide customized views of the growth of various network traffic types around the globe. In addition, the company is offering the VNI PC Pulse application for desktop and laptop computers to let consumers compare their network usage with that of others around the world.