The growing demand for mobile devices, video, and social networking is set to drive the number of Internet users in the Middle East and Africa to 425 million by 2019, accounting for 27 per cent of the regional population, Cisco said on Sunday.
In Middle East and Africa, IP traffic will grow six-fold by 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 44 per cent, and the UAE, which has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the region, is ideally-placed to advance digital businesses and society, the US network infrastructure specialist said.
Social networking will be the most highly-penetrated residential Internet service in the Middle East and Africa, with 176 million users, or used by 81 per cent of total residential Internet users.
According to Cisco, factors expected to drive traffic growth include global increases in Internet users, personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, faster broadband speeds, and the adoption of advanced video services.
"By 2019 there will be nearly 3.9 billion global Internet users [more than 51 per cent of the world's population], up from 2.8 billion in 2014,” according to the 10th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast 2015. In 2014, there were 2.8 billion Internet users, or 39 per cent of the world's population of 7.2 billion.
Across the world, Internet traffic will grow 6.8-fold from 2014 to 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 47 per cent. There will be 2.1 billion networked devices in 2019, up from 1.4 billion in 2014. About 78 per cent of all networked devices will be mobile-connected in 2019, Cisco said.
Fady Younes, head of service providers at Cisco UAE, said as consumers, businesses and societies in the UAE head towards the digital era with the Internet of Everything gaining momentum, VNI is even more relevant now in its 10th year than it was in its first.
"For our customers and the industry ecosystem as a whole, we look forward to continuing to report on these trends, the challenges they bring, and the immense opportunities ahead. We are entering into a very dynamic technological era and the rapid increase in connected devices will benefit a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, oil and gas, utilities, government, healthcare, sports and entertainment, education, in terms of increased efficiency, reduced costs, and, most important, improvement of the lives of citizens.”
In Middle East and Africa, TVs accounted for two per cent of total Internet traffic in 2014, and will be two per cent of total Internet traffic in 2019.
Globally, the average fixed broadband speed will increase two-fold from 20.3 Mbps in 2014 to 42.5 Mbps in 2019. Year-over-year, the average global fixed broadband speed grew 26 per cent from 16 Mbps in 2013 to 20.3 Mbps in 2014. From a regional perspective, Western Europe and the Asia-Pacific continue to lead the world in fixed broadband network speeds.
Tablets will account for four per cent (93.1 million) of all networked devices in the world in 2019, compared to two per cent (24.7 million) in 2014. Smartphones will account for 31 per cent (652 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to 14 per cent (196.6 million) in 2014. Connected TVs will account for three per cent (69.4 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to two per cent (23.8 million) in 2014, while non-Smartphones will account for 38.3 per cent (818.9 million) of all networked devices in 2019, compared to 68 per cent (943.6 million) in 2014.
"With 24 billion networked devices/connections expected online by 2019, compared with 14 billion in 2014, service provider networks must adapt to an influx of sophisticated devices. These devices include tablets, smartphones, and Internet-enabled ultra-high definition TVs, as well as M2M connections and wearables [including new smart watches and health monitors],” Cisco said.
"By 2019, more than 14 per cent of monthly IP traffic will derive from cellular connections, and 53 per cent of monthly IP traffic will come from Wi-Fi connections globally, making differentiated and magnetisable mobile strategies more important for all service providers. The Internet of Everything trend is showing tangible growth as M2M connections will more than triple over the next five years [growing to 10.5 billion by 2019]. There will be significant IoE adoption across many business verticals as well as connected home deployments,” Cisco said in its report.