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networkedThe world will gain about 1 billion new internet users and reach 4.1 billion in the next four years, according to Cisco’s VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast, 2015-2020, released earlier this week. This addition of new users will be accompanied by a significant growth in internet traffic by the year 2020, which shouldn’t be a surprise, given that we’ve experienced these types of patterns and increases in the U.S. alone over the past several years. The advances we have seen in technology and broadband speed have led to the rise of live video streaming and a digital-centric media landscape, one which will continue to expand as connectivity  makes our lives more productive, convenient and entertaining and as consumers demand better and faster connections.

As a way to better visualize the complexity of an evolving internet, Cisco’s Visual Networking Index has designed an infographic slide show displaying worldwide comparisons about internet use, connections and online activities between 2015 and predicted milestones in 2020. The VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast looks at broadband connection speeds, the amount of networked devices and connections, the number of Internet users, Internet application usage, Internet-connected TVs, Wi-Fi usage, and many more internet-based usages that help paint a better picture of where the state of the internet will be in 2020. Here’s a glimpse of what’s in store for the North American region:

Average fixed broadband speeds

2015: 25.4 Mbps
2020: 51.4 Mbps

Number of internet connections and devices

2015: 2.6 billion
2020: 4.5 billion

Percentage of IP traffic coming from Wi-Fi connections

2015: 37
2020: 49

Percentage of IP traffic coming from wired connections

2015: 61
2020: 45

Traffic generated by average internet user per month

2015: 47.7 gigabytes
2020: 114.4 gigabytes

Traffic generated by average internet household per month

2015: 115.1 gigabytes
2020: 277.7 gigabytes

The predicted decrease in the use of wired connections makes sense given how mobile our society has become. More and more people watch TV on the go, within different areas of their homes as well as places outside their homes, making it possible for them to feel less constrained and tied down. Cisco also estimates that North America will see a huge spike in the amount of data transfer usage, as indicated above in the amount of gigabytes generated per user and household. Video will no doubt contribute to this hike, as will the increase in the accessibility of internet-based technologies and tools that can be taken on the go.

The entire VNI report can be found here. It’s exciting to think what the next four years might bring. The networks of today have already improved immensely over the last five years, and those of tomorrow will enable us to share and consume even more content and video over even faster connections, making our lives all the more connected and the possibilities endless.