India’s Internet user base will touch 829 million (59% penetration) in 2021 from the existing base of 373 million as of 2016, according to network solution provider Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) report. Additionally, the number of connected devices is expected to go up till 2 billion in 2021, from 1.4 billion devices in 2016.

The reports also states that data usage on Internet is expected to grow 4x times at a CAGR of 30% to 6.5 Exabytes per month in 2021, up from 1.7 Exabytes per month as of 2016. But this growth will be led by video, says the Cisco. It also predicted the segments including video and M2M will drive this growth. Following is a lowdown of the report:

Video to drive most growth

Video content is projected to account for 76% of all traffic in India by 2021, up from the current 57% share. Video has taken centre stage in India after entry of giants—Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. India will generate 84 billion Internet video minutes per month by 2021, which is equivalent to 160,000 years of video per month, or about 32,000 video minutes every second.

IoT to closely follow

According to the index, M2M (Machine-to-Machine) or IoT related connections will follow closely representing 22% of the total 2 billion devices and connections. M2M will also represent around 5% of Internet traffic by 2021. Cisco said that M2M applications such as smart (dashboard) meters, tracking devices, digital health monitors will help increase data consumption growth by nearly 21% in the next 5 years.

In India, several domestic and foreign companies have been investing heavily into M2M/IoT. Some notable mentions include Visa’s IoT-based payment feature, Bajaj’s focus on smart lighting, and Jio’s expected launch of connected home solutionsamong others.

‘New devices, intelligent networks, higher bandwidth to up cellular penetration’

Cisco pointed out that mobile networks in India are evolving to newer standards beyond the legacy 2G and 3G networks. In fact, the entire competition between telecom service providers has now boiled down to 4G presence and capacity. However, Cisco adds that the right way forward for such new standards to thrive is bycombining device capabilities with faster, higher bandwidth and more intelligent networks.”  “This will help speed up adoption of high-bandwidth data, video and advanced multimedia applications that contribute to increased mobile and Wi-Fi traffic, Cisco added.

Why stringent networks standards are important for India: Intelligent networks are required because a majority of the country in not connected to the Internet and with every new user addition, congestion increases. Better bandwidth management, automation, monetization using cost-effective strategy will help fuel mass adoption of 4G and beyond and other broadband standards. So the key is to build networks that are more “autonomous” and capable of handling huge amounts of bandwidth, the company added.

Other highlights

Consumer video traffic will touch 3 Exabytes per month in 2021, up from 535 petabytes per month in 2016. Note that 3 exabyte is equivalent to 756 million DVDs per month, or 1 million DVDs per hour. In 2021, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross the Internet every 54 minutes.
Overall Internet video traffic (business and consumer) will be 76% of all Internet traffic in 2021, up from 57% in 2016
India’s mobile data traffic will grow 7X times from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 49%. Mobile data traffic in 2021 will be equivalent to 88x the volume of the entire Indian Internet in 2005.
HD Video In India will be 51.4% of Internet video traffic in 2021, up from 12.0% in 2016 (87.9% CAGR)
India’s gaming traffic will grow 7X times from 2016 to 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 49%
Indian Internet traffic in 2021 will be equivalent to 291x the volume of the entire Indian Internet in 2005.  IP traffic will reach 5 GB per capita in 2021, up from 1 GB in 2016
India’s average fixed broadband speed will grow 2.8X times from 2016 to 2021, from 6.6 Mbps to 18.2 Mbps. This is doubtful since telcos are financially stressed while the government is still looking at telecom as a revenue making opportunity.

Cisco VNI’s research methodology:
The index provides predictions based on current trends of data usage on
Cisco based devices, and the company claims to rely on independent analysts for developing its VNI index. The index also takes into consideration data from other research firms like IDC, Gartner, Verto Analytics, Ookla, Comscore, Nielsen among others.