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30 million internet users in Saudi by 2022

Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast recently predicted 4.8 billion Internet users to be connected globally by 2022, out of which 549 million will be living in the Middle East and Africa. And, the user base in Saudi Arabia is expected to be 30 million by 2022.

The forecast predicts four key drivers of IP traffic growth in Saudi Arabia and the wider MEA region by 2022:

An increase in the number of Internet users
The number of people using the Internet in Saudi Arabia will grow from 24 million in 2017, to 30 million in 2022. This will equate to approximately 82.6% of the population using the Internet, up from 73.2% in 2017.

Cisco estimates that by 2022, the entire MEA region will have approximately 549 million Internet users and account for the highest growth rate in IP traffic, with a 41% increase over 2017.

A growing number of devices and connections
Cisco predicts there will be approximately 2.5 billion devices connected to the network in MEA, equating to 5.4 networked devices percapita in Saudi Arabia.

In the Kingdom alone, there will be 83.3 million more devices and connections by 2022 – resulting in a total of 194.2 million. Non-PC devices are anticipated to drive the majority of Internet traffic, with machine to machine (M2M) modules expected to grow at the fastest rate, followed by portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. Cisco anticipates the enhanced connectivity to create new possibilities for AI and Machine Learning across industries and in smart homes.

Faster broadband speeds
As broadband connection speed is a key enabler for IP traffic growth, Cisco predicts the speeds will increase more than three-fold, from 2017 to 2022. Accordingly, it is expected that broadband speeds in Saudi Arabia will increase from 12.2Mbps in 2017 to 41.2Mbps by 2022 – enabling businesses and individuals to operate with greater speed and efficiency.

As this speed continues to increase, large downloads will go from taking hours to a matter of minutes and eventually, seconds. The average Internet user in Saudi Arabia will generate 40 gigabytes of Internet traffic per month, up 68% from 2017. Household traffic is predicted to increase by 196%.

More media-rich content and applications
In terms of rich media, data-heavy files and video are anticipated to make up 85% of the Kingdom’s IP traffic by 2022, up from 70% in 2017.

The predicted 15% increase in media-rich Internet traffic can be partially attributed to the rapid growth of Over-the-Top (OOT) film, television and music streaming services, in addition to the growing popularity of gaming in Saudi Arabia. As online gaming also continues to grow in popularity, Cisco predicts that the nation will experience a five-fold increase in Internet gaming traffic from 2017.

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