In its newest Visual Networking Index Forecast report, Cisco is predicting that the total number of public Wi-Fi hotspots around the world will reach 432 million by the year 2020. For context, the 432 million will represent a seven fold improvement over the last year’s numbers, which are around 64 million public Wi-Fi hotspots across the globe.
For so many years, the ascension of mobile service providers have been so fast that companies that offer cellular data have been worrying that they might exhaust the availability of airwaves. Because of this fear, various wireless carriers have tried implementing limits on how much data mobile users can use up on a monthly basis.
But according to Cisco’s projections, something else entirely has a more significant impact -- the increasing use of Wi-Fi networks. 432 million is certainly a very big number, and it also includes home spots, both public and private. Cisco predicts that home spots will grow to 423 million by 2020. Last year, the number of home spots was at 57 million.
It makes sense for home spots to increase rapidly by the end of this decade. After all, by that time, every member of every household probably owns at least one mobile device. And with the way the idea of the Internet of Things has been starting to gain traction lately, we could see an influx of all sorts of connected devices in homes by 2020.
Based on Cisco’s projected numbers, over 1 billion new Internet users will become part of the worldwide web community. From 3 billion in number last year, the web browsing global population will increase to 4.1 billion by decade’s end. And with that surge in user population, the volume of web traffic will surely balloon, too.
Per Cisco’s estimates, the more than 1 billion new Internet users in 2020 will push IP traffic worldwide to increase more than two fold, from 72.5 exabytes a month in 2015 to 194.4 exabytes a month in a span of five years. Cisco notes that the expected increase in traffic is driving the adoption of the IPv6 protocol. With the increase in the number of web users as well as the continuing growth of the Internet of Things, the number of connected users and devices is sure to outpace the number of IP addresses made currently available with the IPv4 protocol.
But can the IPv6 protocol be adopted soon enough? The good news is that Cisco believes so, which means that entering into the 2020s, we should all be set.
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