Credit: Mark Skipper/Flickr

The internet in 2019 - 2 billion trillion bytes of data

By 2019, the internet will carry three times more data, and the great majority of it will be video, according to new research.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 29 May 2015

Ever wished you could break through the mists of time and peer awestruck into the future? Well, now you can. Sort of. The soothsayers at Cisco’s Visual Networking Index have studied the entrails and come up with some predictions for what the internet will look like in 2019. Prepare to be amazed.

The internet will grow (see, we said you’d be amazed). Cisco predicts that the internet will carry a colossal two zettabytes (2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) of data in 2019, three times more than last year. Some of that growth will come from the expanding internet. While Mark Zuckerberg may not get his way and ensure universal internet access, the number of users will increase from 2.8 billion to 3.9 billion (or from 39% to 51% of the world’s population).

Some of the rest will come from faster broadband (about time – Ed.), with average fixed line speeds expected to double from 20.3mbps (megabytes per second) to 42.5mbps, and from the inexorable rise of the internet of things. The average person had two ‘networked devices’ last year. Cisco says by 2019 that will have risen to 3.2. Better get buying your smart watches, connected toasters and toenail-monitoring shoes then…

Fixed lines and desktops are so 2015. Mobile and wifi will both continue to expand at their expense, respectively carrying 14% (up from 4%) and 53% (up from 42%) of all traffic by 2019. What will we be doing on our mobiles and wifi-enabled devices? Watching Youtube videos by the sounds of it. Video’s share of all traffic will rise from 67% to a staggering 80% over the period.

Cisco is essentially predicting that current trends will continue, which is the futurologists equivalent of a daily weather forecast saying ‘it’ll do what it did yesterday’. Of course, Cisco’s methods are a lot more sophisticated and respected than that, but it doesn’t take a supercomputer to figure out which way the internet’s going.  

Besides, predicting the future is a hazardous business that no one’s ever quite mastered. The broad sweep of technological progress means the report’s very likely to be correct in broad terms, but for specifics we’ll probably just have to wait and see.  

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