The Internet is going to reach a zettabyte, nearly a trillion gigabytes, of data this year

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If you thought the 2GB monthly data cap on your phone was low, well, you’re right. And, in comparison to the world’s overall Internet traffic figures, it appears to be even more microscopic as we’re slated to approach the one zettabyte mark later this year.

This news comes from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, a survey predicting Internet traffic trends all the way up to 2019. The survey says that Internet traffic is going to extend past a zettabyte of data usage this year, but even more surprisingly, it’s going to double in the next three years.

To put into perspective just how massive our bandwidth consumption has been recently, a simple unit conversion calculator reveals that a zettabyte equates to 909,494,701.773 terabytes. Yes, we’re expected to reach almost a trillion gigabytes this year, and likely exceed it, largely due to the advent and rampant adoption of smartphones.

By the year 2020, Cisco claims that 5.5 billion people, roughly 70 percent of the global population, will be lugging mobile devices around in their pockets. With that in mind, devices like phones, tablets, smartwatches, and the like will be responsible for an eight-fold increase over the next three to four years. Most shocking, however, is Cisco’s assertion that by 2020, more people will have cell phones than will have basic utilities, including running water, electrical service, or a car.

On a less surprising note, the Internet is experiencing the most rapid expansion in Africa and the Middle East, with a 44-percent compound annual growth rate. Central and Eastern Europe are advancing at a 330-percent annual rate. Likewise, countries located in the Asia Pacific region, like China, are anticipated to account for the most traffic worldwide at 54 exabytes per month, though they’re only experiencing a 21-percent growth rate each year.

North American countries, and primarily the United States, are generating about 50 exabytes of data consumption every month, with an annual growth of 20 percent, making us the second-largest data devourer around.

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