Together with remote healthcare services, streaming video and gaming, internet traffic spiked by 25-45% in many regions across the globe during the pandemic.

According to Cisco this is only a glimpse of the traffic volume that will emerge in the 5G era, with 29.3 billion connected devices expected in 2023.

Against this backdrop and during its Cisco Live 2021 virtual conference, Cisco announced its strategy to help communication service providers and web scale companies connect, secure and automate their networks.

According to the company, internet architecture needs continuous care and attention to support the world’s ambitions.

It added that over three billion people still without access to the internet, a digital divide continues to develop where many are without access to vital information, learning and opportunities.

“The need to transform how we build networks is critical,” Cisco explained.

Jonathan Davidson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mass Scale Infrastructure Group, , said: “Cisco has spent the last five years researching and investing in this portfolio of innovation, focusing on how to help our customers deliver the best internet, while being able to grow revenue, reduce their costs and mitigate risk.”

“By helping our customers make the right decisions for their networks today, we are setting the world up for success, to connect more people, places and things than ever before. We can all look back on this point in time in the next ten years and celebrate how we rose to the challenge and did the right thing to take care of the internet.”

Economics of the internet

Cisco asserts that network operators are under increasing pressure need to build networks to grow and extend the internet to more areas.

The company has rolled out its Converged SDN Transport blueprint to help service providers converge multiple networks “into a common, cost efficient and secure infrastructure with enormous scale.”

Other highlights from the Conference include the introduction of the new Cisco Cloud Native Broadband Network Gateway for telco customers, the announcement of Cisco Silicon One Q200 series chips offering up to 14.4 Tbps total capacity and Crosswork Cloud to deliver a new application called Traffic Analysis. This offers a comprehensive view across network peering points.

“We are at a unique point in time in which we can shape the future ahead of us, and to do that, we need the right technology to form the foundation,” said Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO at Cisco.

“With the innovation we are delivering this week, our customers around the world will not only be able to connect, secure and automate the future of IT, but also leverage technology to truly power an inclusive future for all.”

In early January, the company listed several key tech trends for 2021, including driving experience (and safety) through sensors, app-enabled agility and resilience, from customer experience to brand excitement, and consumption models for the tech you actually need.

Another prediction by the company is that the introduction and expansion of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 networks will improve bandwidth, speed, and latency, and reach areas where fibre is prohibitively expensive.

As a result, frontline mobile workers, telehealth, manufacturing, and education will all benefit. This in turn will level the digital divide as these new technologies spur growth and innovation for millions

Cisco said the internet enabled society and economic activity to continue for those with access to this invaluable resource. But that’s only about half of the global population and the pandemic underlined the urgent need to expand access. Currently only 35% of developing countries have internet access, compared to 80% in more advanced economies.

The company added that according to PwC, bringing the internet to offline communities would add US$6.7-trillion to the global economy and lift another 500 million people out of poverty.

Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East & Africa, said: “As 2020 has shown, the pace of technological change moves very quickly, and we expect the same during 2021. The pandemic was a hugely challenging experience, but digitisation has played a vital role in helping businesses, organisations and individuals through the crisis. I remain hopeful for the future and of the positive role technology is playing in our daily lives.”

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