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Explosive growth in data traffic and the future of global communications infrastructure.

NTT Com Global Watch vol.2, Revised March 2015

In recent years, the amount of data passing through the global communications infrastructure has been increasing at a phenomenal rate. This expansion is largely attributed to the rising popularity of mobile terminals, social networking services, and business cloud services. To meet the growing demands of society, telecom carriers are striving to increase network capacity and enhance service quality. NTT Communications is providing crucial support by raising the bandwidth of its international IP network infrastructure, including the Japan-US backbone where demand is especially strong, and introducing cutting-edge solutions. In this article, NTT Communications provides current information on market trends garnered from various survey reports.

Expanding Internet usage is driving dramatic growth in data traffic

Recent explosive growth in network data traffic is largely being driven by expanding Internet usage fueled by an increase in data-rich content and the rising popularity of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.


The large volume of rich content seen in video and games, and the rising popularity of frequently accessed services that are closely tied to users' lifestyles, such as social networking services, are directly connected to the growth in traffic. According to the "Visual Networking Index (VNI): Forecast and Methodology, 2013–2018" released by Cisco Systems, Inc. ("Cisco"), the average growth rate of global IP traffic from 2013 to 2018 will be 21%, and the annual global IP traffic is expected to exceed the zettabyte (1,000 exabytes) level in 2016. By 2018, global IP traffic is expected to reach 1.6 zettabytes annually (131.6 exabytes per month).


According to Cisco forecasts, annual global IP traffic is expected to pass the zettabyte (1000 exabytes) threshold in 2016.

The increasing popularity of mobile terminals, especially smartphones, is further spurring data traffic. By allowing users to access data-rich content through the Internet almost anywhere and anytime, smartphones are generating 10 to 20 times more data traffic than conventional mobile phones. And smartphone sales are expected to keep on soaring.

Global sales of smartphones are rapidly growing, and according to research on the global smartphone market released by IDC (a U.S.-based market intelligence firm) on August 28, 2014, sales in 2014 increased 23.8% over the previous year to 1.25 billion units. This is supported by past research that shows that sales, which were approximately 300 million units in 2010, rose 55% in 2011, and continue to rapidly increase.


However, the increasing popularity of smartphones and the corresponding growth in demand for data traffic is stretching the capacity of mobile phone lines to their limit in the U.S. and Japan



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Cloud computing is transforming the corporate information and communications technology (ICT) landscape and expanding business data communication

Any analysis of network data traffic would be incomplete without taking business data traffic into account. Business-related traffic has also been steadily increasing, as shown in the graph based on "Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI): Forecast and Methodology, 2013–2018" released by Cisco.


According to Cisco forecasts, business IP traffic is expected to increase annually by an average of 18% between 2013 and 2018, and 2013 traffic will have doubled by 2018 due to the growing popularity of rich video communication in the corporate sector.

This significant increase in business data traffic is largely the result of changes in the corporate information and communication technology (ICT) environment. Rather than owning and operating services and data on corporate computers,  businesses are increasingly turning to the cloud not only for network infrastructure and platform services, but also for email and business applications.
Global corporations are also taking advantage of the borderless nature of cloud-based services to significantly increase data traffic across national borders. Because Cloud Services are provided over a network, they are one of the major reasons for increased business data traffic.


As this trend in global cloud computing accelerates, companies are accumulating large volumes of business data. Processes for handing this data will transform existing business activities as well as lead to new forms of business.


Among the "IDC top 10 predictions for the 2015 Global ICT Market" released by IDC Japan on December 8, 2014, "cloud services will remain a hotbed of activity in 2015 in the ICT market with $118 billion in spending on the greater cloud ecosystem."


Improving the quality and reliability of international networks is essential when considering the increase in data traffic across national borders due to further developments in cloud computing services and big data.

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