IP (Internet Protocol) traffic around the world will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% from 2007 to 2012 – nearly doubling every two years, and resulting in an annual bandwidth demand of about 522 exabytes, or more than half a zettabyte. 

This is according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast for 2007-2012, released yesterday, which examines the IP and networking trends driven largely by the increasing use of video and Web 2.0 social networking and collaboration applications. The combination of these technologies represents what is known as visual networking.
In the consumer market, the advent of rich online video communications and entertainment, as well as social networking, has greatly increased the impact of online video on the network. In 2012, Internet video traffic alone will be 400 times the traffic carried by the US Internet backbone in 2000.
Representative of this trend, Internet video has jumped from 12% of the global consumer Internet traffic in 2006 to 22% in 2007.
Video on demand, IPTV, peer-to-peer (P2P) video, and Internet video are forecast to account for nearly 90% of all consumer IP traffic in 2012.
Global business IP traffic is forecast to grow strongly at a CAGR of 35% from 2007 to 2012. Increased broadband penetration in the small-business segment and the increased adoption of advanced video communications in the enterprise are major drivers for business IP traffic growth.  
Business IP traffic will grow fastest in the developing markets and Asia-Pacific. In volume, North America will continue to have the most business IP traffic through 2012, followed by Asia-Pacific and Western Europe.
Additional key findings from the Cisco VNI Forecast include:
* Global IP traffic will reach 44 exabytes per month in 2012, compared to less than 7 exabytes per month in 2007;
* By comparison, global IP traffic in 2002 was 5 exabytes which means that the volume of IP traffic in 2012 will be 100 times as large;
* Monthly global IP traffic in December 2012 will be 11 exabytes higher than in December 2011, a single-year increase that will exceed the amount by which traffic has increased in the eight years since 2000; and
* Mobile data traffic will roughly double each year from 2008 through 2012.
“The broad and increasing adoption of visual networking is having a significant impact on IP traffic growth for both consumer and business services markets worldwide,” says Kumaran Nair, Director: Operations, Cisco.
“Until just a few years ago, ‘exabyte’ was an unheard-of term. However, because of the massive growth we’re seeing, by 2012 we will have to reorient our vocabulary once again, as the metric that we need then will be the zettabyte.”