We all know online video is growing like gangbusters, accounting for 64 percent of all Internet traffic as of last year. But it appears we’ve only seen the beginning. As entertainment increasingly moves to the Web, a new study by Cisco predicts that in just four years time online video will account for four-fifths of the world’s Internet traffic.
An increasing reliance on over-the-top streaming TV will drive the growth, according to the report. With data-intensive video streams increasing in quality (and bandwidth requirements) as 4K UHD video becomes the new standard, and around half of the world getting online by 2019, video is set to be the predominant driver of all online traffic — by a landslide. And, no surprise, all of this could have huge ramifications for the future of the Internet.
People are watching streaming video more and broadcast cable less and the streaming video industry — both content providers and distributors — is responding. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen, CBS expand its video streaming service, music streaming giant Spotify delve into video, HBO launch its standalone on-demand streaming service HBO Now, including new availability for Google’s Android TV and Chromecast devices… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The study makes a point to note that cord cutters — who primarily rely on online video through streaming media devices like Google Chromecast, Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV and others — are most responsible for the trend. “The cord-cutting household [consumes] more than twice as much data per month as non-cord-cutters,” explained Cisco exec Robert Pepper to The Washington Post.
The trend is expanding the amount of traffic on the Internet at a high rate. “Global IP traffic has increased more than fivefold in the past 5 years, and will increase nearly threefold over the next 5 years,” the report claims. Apart from more and more connected households leveraging streaming devices for the big screen, much of the increasing Internet traffic is coming from the mobile sector, as well. The report predicts that computers will take a back seat, with “over half” of all traffic coming from connected TVs, tablets and smartphones by 2019.
To give an idea of just how much video will be rushing through the Internet’s veins, the Cisco report says that it would take a single viewer 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross the network in a single month by 2019. That’s a whole lotta cat videos.
As Gizmodo points out, the internet may be in trouble if this trend continues, as the world’s fiber-optic internet cables can transmit data only so fast. Cisco’s findings makes the slow build-out of more robust infrastructure from services like Google Fiber all the more vital to the future of the Web at large.