By 2021, machine to machine (M2M) connections supporting Internet of Things (IoT) applications are forecast to be more than half of the total 27.1 billion devices and connections, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Complete Forecast.

The report found that IoT innovations in connected homes, connected healthcare, smart vehicles and transportation and a number of other next-generation M2M services are behind this growth. Cisco said it amounted to “a 2.4-fold increase from 5.8 billion in 2016 to 13.7 billion by 2021”.

With the rise of connected applications such as health monitors, medicine dispensers, and first responder connectivity, healthcare is set to be the fastest growing industry, at 30 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The connected car and connected cities applications will have the second-fastest growth, both at 29 per cent CAGR.

Cisco also found that there will be a rise in internet users, from 3.3 to 4.6 billion (58 per cent of the global population) by 2021.

Average broadband speed advances – from 27.5 Mbps to 53.0 Mbps – and more video viewing – from 73 per cent to 82 per cent of total IP traffic – is also predicted by 2021. Cisco said that over the forecast period, global IP traffic is expected to increase threefold, reaching an annual rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021, up from an annual rate of 1.2 zettabytes in 2016.

The report found that along with the rise in internet traffic, the average size of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks will increase steadily, approaching 1.2 Gbps – enough to take most organisations completely offline – by 2021.

Yvette Kanouff, senior vice-president and general manager of service provider business at Cisco, said: “As global digital transformation continues to impact billions of consumers and businesses, the network and security will be essential to support the future of the internet.”

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