Study: The Internet Has Finally Become TV

Illustration for article titled Study: The Internet Has Finally Become TV

In the next five years, more than 50 percent of the world’s population will have internet access, and 80 percent of internet traffic will be devoted to video, says a new study by Cisco. But it’s not just billions more dinky YouTube videos that will suck up all that bandwidth. It’s our shifting TV habits.

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The number of online videos and and the size of those videos is skyrocketing as more and more of us are ditching the traditional cable package and turning to our internet-enabled devices to watch television. What’s more, we’ll increasingly be streaming really big video files, like the high-quality 4K video needed to play on HD monitors. By 2019, 30 percent of internet-connected TVs are expected to be 4K.

“The cord-cutting household [consumes] more than twice as much data per month as non-cord-cutters,” Cisco exec Robert Pepper tells the Washington Post.

In other words, cord-cutters aren’t only going to change the business of television, they’re also going to dramatically change the amount of internet that we need. Consider this: Global IP traffic is five times as big as it was five years ago, and will triple threefold over the next five years. Next year, worldwide IP traffic will reach 1.1 zettabytes per year (1 zettabyte is 1000 exabytes; one exabyte is one billion gigabytes). That number will go up to two zettabytes in 2019.

We’ve already heard about two potential problems here: We might run out of IP addresses and our internet infrastructure might not be able to handle all that data.

Even though the amount of internet data going to mobile devices won’t match the torrents (I mean literally, torrents) of video flowing to HD monitors, these numbers will dramatically change, too. By 2019, traffic from wireless and mobile devices will exceed traffic from wired devices, accounting for two-thirds of all traffic. Right now, wifi/mobile represent 54 percent. And get this: The number of devices connected to IP networks will be three times the global population in 2019. This figure seems the most incredible to me. Three devices for every person on Earth! Right now there are only two networked devices per capita.

This all really puts yesterday’s Charter-TimeWarner merger in perspective. Cable company, internet company—whatever. It won’t matter much within a half-decade. It’ll all be one big pipe.

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[Cisco via WaPo]

DISCUSSION

How do people with data caps from the ISPs deal with this? Luckily (so far), my ISP hasn’t imposed any data caps, but I do worry now and again that they will decide to do so one day soon.

Netflix says a SD stream uses 1GB/hour and that a HD stream uses 3GB/hour. ISPs that cap data seem to cap somewhere around 300GB per month. That’s 3.33 hours of HD per day for the entire household. Given that there is an average of 2.63 persons in each US household, that’s roughly 48 minutes of HD streaming per day, per person.

And that’s assuming you and everyone in your house do NOTHING else online. No browsing the internet, sending e-mails, uploading/downloading other files, etc... And since the average American over the age of two watches 34 hours of TV a week, as more and more video watching shifts to the Internet, then data caps are going to become an even more serious concern.