Cisco has released its fifth annual Visual Network Index Forecast, predicting a rapid growth in Internet traffic and connected devices in the coming years. By 2015, the company believes global Web traffic will quadruple, reaching 966 exabytes per year. Cisco estimates that global Internet traffic between 2014 and 2015 will increase by 200 exabytes, which is said to be greater than the total amount of traffic generated in 2010. Mobile broadband will increase 26 times to 75 exabytes a year.

Such incredible growth is attributed to four primary factors – though none are particularly shocking, with the most obvious contributor being the proliferation of handsets, tablets and other consumer electronics. While full-fledged PCs accounted for 97% of consumer Internet traffic in 2010, users will gradually rely more on mobile devices and Web-enabled appliances. By 2015, PC traffic will fall to 87%, while Web-enabled TVs will represent 10% of all Internet traffic and 18% of video traffic.

Network-connected devices will outnumber the world's population two to one in less than four years. More devices equals more users and Cisco estimates that there will be some three billion Web-goers by 2015, or 40% of the world's population. The company also predicts that the average fixed broadband speed will increase four-fold from 7Mb/s to 28Mb/s. If that sounds hard to believe, Cisco noted that the average broadband speed has actually doubled from 3.5Mb/s to 7Mb/s in the last year.

Armed with media-friendly companion devices and speedier connections, Cisco projects that people will consume more Web-based videos. By 2015, the Internet video community will receive 500 million new users and over 1.5 billion people will stream one million video minutes (674 days) every second. Traffic associated with "advanced videos" such as those that offer high-definition or 3D visuals will increase 14 times. Interestingly, filesharing traffic is expected to decline by a whopping 40%.