This is the question that we continue to ask ourselves in this economic environment.

Some clues may be at hand following news last week that Cisco had released their white paper titled, The Cisco Visual Networking Index, Forecast and Methodology, 2008 -2013.

Contained in the document are a number of scenarios and predictions regarding growth in the internet and broadband connectivity and applications.

Hyper connectivity has emerged as an important dynamic that has the potential to greatly increase traffic.

Hyper connectivity refers to the persistence of many simultaneous connections over time: connections from people to people, from people to machines, and from machines to machines. Devices and applications with embedded network connectivity combine to form an immersive or ambient connected environment.

In the past year, it has become clear that visual networking applications are often used concurrently with other applications and sometimes even other visual networking applications, as the visual network becomes a persistent backdrop that remains “on” while the user multitasks or is engaged elsewhere. This trend accompanies what is sometimes called the widgetization of internet and TV, as network traffic expands beyond the borders of the browser window and the confines of the PC.

There are four key enablers of hyper connectivity, and all four are poised for strong growth. Multitasking and passive networking, the two key pillars of hyper connectivity, are enabled by: (a) the growing penetration of high-speed broadband, (b) the expansion of digital screen surface area and resolution, (c) the proliferation of network enabled devices and (d) the increases in the power and speed of computing devices.

The key take away from the document is the expectations and forecasts for internet video to TV, this includes video delivered via internet to a TV screen, by way of an internet-enabled set top box or equivalent device.

Examples of devices now available include Apple TV, Microsoft’s X Box 360, Play Station 3 and the Roku digital video player, through which users can download film and television content.

With the cost of large LCD screens continuing to decline, consumers and businesses alike can afford to expand the number and size of their digital screens. The increased global adoption of flat-panel screens also allows residential consumers and business users to expand their screen surface area without sacrificing any floor space.

In addition to acquiring more and larger TV and PC screens, digital screens are proliferating along with other consumer devices: e-book readers, handheld gaming consoles, large-screen mobile handsets, in-vehicle GPS display screens, digital picture frames, projectors, Tele Presence screens, IP phone screens, and digital advertising and sales displays.

The total surface area of all digital screens across the globe increased 43 per cent from 2003 to 2008 and will increase another 64 per cent by 2013.

Global digital screen surface area will nearly double between 2008 and 2013.

The report forecast compound annual growth rates for global consumer internet video to TV traffic between 2008 to 2013 as follows.

  • North America: 234 per cent
  • Western Europe: 116 per cent
  • Asia Pacific: 134 per cent
  • Japan: 106 per cent
  • Latin America: 232 per cent
  • Central Eastern Europe: 120 per cent
  • Middle East and Africa: 180 per cent

Investments should be concentrated around companies that are able to plug in to the growth rates detailed above.

Pipe Networks Ltd is just one of the Australian companies that will prosper if these forecast are anywhere near correct.

Keep an eye Amcom, Macquarie Telecom, iiNet and Singapore Telecom.