Global IP traffic is expected to increase fivefold over the next four years, according to new figures from Cisco.
The networking giant's Visual Networking Index predicts that IP networks worldwide will be handling 56 exabytes (EB) of data per month in 2013, up from 9EB per month last year. An exabyte is one billion gigabytes.
Cisco said that the Asia Pacific region will dominate the IP traffic space with around 21EB per month by 2013, followed by the US with 13EB per month and Europe with 12.5EB per month.
Although these regions will be responsible for the lion's share of the data flow, the Middle East and Africa region is expected to grow the fastest, with a compound annual growth rate of 51 per cent to reach 1EB per month by 2013.
Cisco explained that the growth of high-speed broadband, ubiquitous internet access, high-definition video, online services and digital multitasking is driving users to consume ever greater levels of data across an increasing number of devices.
In particular, all forms of video - IPTV, video-on-demand, internet video and peer-to-peer - will exceed 90 per cent of global consumer IP traffic, while video calls and video over instant messaging will increase tenfold from 2008 to 2013.
This trend is spurred on by the proliferation of devices with screens, which encourage higher levels of video consumption, as well as growth in average screen sizes, which pushes the demand for higher-resolution images.
Mobile broadband is also set to be a significant contributor, roughly doubling each year from 2008 to 2013. Even in the mobile space, video is expected to soak up nearly two-thirds of all mobile data traffic in 2013, making it the fastest growing application category.
The Cisco report goes on to highlight the growth of 'hyper-connectivity', whereby individuals no longer have one connection to the internet and perform one task at a time.
Active multitasking, such as listening to streaming music while working online, as well as passive multitasking, such as background online backups or ambient video from things like IP-security cameras, will all add to the traffic flow.
Cisco explained that this multitasking means that there are now 36 hours in a network day, a figure that is expected to grow to 48 hours by 2013.
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