The amount of data generated online is set to skyrocket over the next few years, spurred on by a huge growth in the Internet of Things.
That's the prediction of Cisco's latest Virtual Networking Index (VNI), which has estimated that by 2021, the IoT will represent 50 per cent of all connections across the world - rising to 58 per cent in the UK.
The report predicts that there will be 27 billion devices and connections to the internet by 2021. The healthcare industry will see a particularly large increase, growing 30 per cent annually, due to a rise in connected applications such as health monitors and medicine dispensers.
In the UK, the number of connected devices is set to see a major increase, with an estimated 9.4 devices per person by 2021, up from 5.7 per person today.
There will also be a huge amount in the amount of video viewing carried out online, particularly live content, which is set to increase 15-fold and account for 13 per cent of Internet video traffic by 2021.
Overall, global internet traffic is set to explode over the next few years, rising from the current rate of 96 exabytes per month to 278 exabytes per month by 2021.
Fortunately, in order to deal with this deluge of data, the worldwide average broadband speed is also set to see a major increase, rising from today's 27.5 Mbps to 53.0 Mbps by 2021 as more countries invest heavily in internet infrastructure.
By 2021, Wi-Fi and mobile connected devices will also contribute a much higher proportion of internet traffic, with Cisco estimating they will generate 73 per cent of all content online. Wi-Fi hotspots will also see a huge growth worldwide, with 526.2 million units estimated to be in the wild by Cisco's deadline - with China, the US and Japan all expected to lead the way.
“As global digital transformation continues to impact billions of consumers and businesses, the network and security will be essential to support the future of the Internet,” said Yvette Kanouff, SVP and GM of Service Provider Business, Cisco. “Driving network innovation with service providers will be key for Cisco to support the needs of their customers who want reliable, secure, and high quality connected experiences.”