As consumers adopt more bandwidth-hungry services like Netflix and use more devices around their home, Cisco's Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecasts that the global average bandwidth speeds will increase from 20.3 to 42.5 Mbps by 2019.
On a regional basis, Western Europe and Asia Pacific are the two regions with the fastest wireline broadband speeds. However, North American providers such as AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and Bell Canada are continually deploying fiber to accommodate bandwidth-intensive content and applications.
From a regional perspective, Western Europe and Asia Pacific continue to lead the world in fixed broadband network speeds. North America and other regions are also updating their network resources to accommodate more bandwidth-intensive content and applications (e.g., UHD video).
But Japan and South Korea will far surpass the global average. Cisco expects that both countries will see average speeds approach 100 Mbps during this four-year period.
Overall, by the year 2019, 33 percent of all global fixed broadband connections will be faster than 25 Mbps, up from 29 percent today.
Two of the big contributors to the rise in wireline bandwidth will be video consumption and the growth of connected devices.
Cisco forecast that IP video traffic will grow three-fold from 2014-2019 and will be 79 percent of all IP traffic in 2019, up from 66 percent in 2014. By the year 2019, high definition and ultra HD Internet video will comprise 68 percent of consumer Internet traffic.
At the same time, the number of connected devices per user is rising. On a global basis, there will be 3.2 networked devices/connections per capita by 2019, up from 2 per capita in 2014.
If Cisco's forecast that there will be 24 billion networked devices/connections online by 2019, up from 14 billion in 2014, service providers will have to enhance their networks to handle new traffic patterns that will be driven by a myriad of devices including tablets, smartphones and Internet-enabled ultra-high definition TVs, as well as M2M connections and wearables such as Apple's new smart watch and health monitors.
The growth in connected devices, broadband speed and IP video will contribute to a tripling in annual IP traffic. According to Cisco, annual IP traffic will triple between 2014 and 2019, when it will reach a record 2 zettabytes.
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