By Marina Lopes
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Video consumption of the World Cup alone will generate nearly as much Internet traffic as occurred in all of Australia in 2013, according to a new Cisco Systems Inc report that shows growth in Internet traffic is fueled by video.
The report, which says video is expected to grow to 84 percent of Internet traffic in the United States by 2018 from 78 percent currently, raises questions about whether Internet service providers should prioritize traffic, which has become a controversial issue.
"In the future at some point every month is going to look like the world cup month because the consumption just keeps getting bigger and bigger," said Robert Pepper, Cisco's vice president of global technology policy.
Cisco, one of the leading makers of networking equipment, studies the use and speed of devices, connections and data for an annual forecast of Internet traffic growth.
The report, released on Tuesday, comes as the Federal Communications Commision debates legislation on Internet traffic, or "net neutrality," that could allow telecommunications companies the right to prioritize some traffic.
Critics of the proposed revisions worry the rules would create "fast lanes" for companies that pay up and slower traffic for others.
Not all Internet traffic will be the same, according to the report. Internet connected medical devices, for example, would have a different data profile than video streaming, but a higher speed urgency.
The report forecasts that, by 2018, online connected machines will take over televisions as the fastest growing connected devices, making up over 46 percent of Internet traffic, from the current 25 percent.
"A world in which we want networks to treat all traffic the same will inhibit these connections," Jeff Campbell, Cisco's vice president of government and community relations told Reuters.
"As the FCC looks at rewriting its net neutrality rules, it is important that we allow for things like managed services and specialized services that can provide new applications for consumers," Campbell added.
(Reporting By Marina Lopes. Editing by Andre Grenon)