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Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux

Past expectations of outlandish telecom equipment revenue growth may have been banished to the land of myth, but the same should not happen to huge Internet traffic growth predictions, according to a new IDC report (see Broadband Drives Internet Growth).

The report, titled “Worldwide Bandwidth End-User Forecast and Analysis, 2003-2007: More is Still Not Enough,” counters the speculations by many industry observers and news reports that Internet traffic growth has slowed down. Instead, it expects Internet traffic to nearly double every year for the next five years, with an annual compound growth rate of 96 percent.

“We noticed that people started saying that Internet was slowing,” says IDC analyst and one of the authors of the report, Sterling Perrin. “But we never found any data to support that… That would really indicate an industry at a very mature stage.”

The report, which is based on IDC-generated survey data, forecasts that Internet traffic will grow from 180 petabits per day in 2002 to 5,175 petabits per day by the end of 2007. IDC compares these astronomical numbers to the mere 10 terabytes of information it says exist in the entire Library of Congress. “By 2007, IDC expects Internet users will access, download and share the information equivalent of the entire Library of Congress more than 64,000 times over every day,” according to yesterday's IDC press release.

While Perrin does not forecast a new boom in telecom equipment sales for some time to come, he does say that the massive Internet traffic growth does have important implications for the sector. “The amount of capacity that’s out there will at one point be depleted,” he says, insisting that the need will arise for carriers to buy next-generation optical equipment that can manage the increasing traffic more efficiently and at a lower cost.

The Internet traffic growth also has implications for the kinds of network architectures we can expect to see once new builds start picking up again, according to the report. “The volume of Internet traffic is just starting to swamp the networks,” Perrin says. “When they’re going to build… it will have to be next-gen data-centric.”

The question on everyone’s minds, of course, is: When can we expect the existing capacity to be depleted and the new network builds to begin? IDC has not forecast a specific timeframe for the recovery but does say it has started seeing some stabilization in the next-gen optical market. “Anybody that has a specific date or time when that will happen is kidding themself,” Perrin says, but indicates that “we are looking for some growth to return in 2004.”

So what’s driving all of this Internet traffic growth? Surprisingly, perhaps, new Internet users and new mobile Internet users have little to do with it, according to the report. Apparently, the rate of new Internet users signing up has started to slow, while mobile Internet use has barely taken off. Rather, consumer broadband adoption will be the real driver for Internet traffic growth over the next five years, the report states. By 2007, IDC believes that 60 percent of all Internet traffic will be generated by consumers, while business users will account for the remaining 40 percent.

“Growth is going to essentially come through the use of bigger pipes by the existing base of Internet users,” Perrin says. “Particularly on the consumer side.”

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading

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BobbyMax 12/5/2012 | 12:32:29 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux The report from IDC is largely unscientific and has not been validated. There are no fresh grounds for the internet traffic to increase. The worldwide sales of PCs have been going down clearly showing that the people are not interested any more. In fact, there were studies conducted in Israel that clearly show that the learning processes is inhibited when students use PCs. It inhibits the thinking process.
10Gig 12/5/2012 | 12:32:28 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux "In fact, there were studies conducted in Israel that clearly show that the learning processes is inhibited when students use PCs. It inhibits the thinking process."


i agree, atleast they have you for evidence
joestudz 12/5/2012 | 12:32:27 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux Meant to include this in previous post and was not fast enough.

Anyone have any idea how many people, worldwide are on the telephone at any one time? Since Internet connections last a lot longer than typical phone call it would be a good, very conservative estimate of potential Internet useage.
joestudz 12/5/2012 | 12:32:27 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux Why the assumption of "100 million active users of internet at that time". Considering the world population the 100 million sounds low to me even if you say at any time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
metroshark 12/5/2012 | 12:32:27 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux First, this report makes the numbers look big by measuring the bandwidth in terabits per day. According to the report, end user Internet bandwidth usage will be around 1.5 million terabits per day by 2005. If we translate this number to bits/second, the end result is 17.4 terabits per second.

If we assume that there are 100 million active users of Internet at that time, this translates to 174Kb/s of sustained bandwidth per user. I find this hard to believe unless the authors of this report include VoD traffic as part of their worldwide Internet bandwidth end-use.
gea 12/5/2012 | 12:32:27 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux "the learning processes is inhibited when students use PCs. It inhibits the thinking process."

Booby: this is one post on Lightreading in which you have overwhelming qualifications to speak.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 12:32:26 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux The worldwide sales of PCs have been going down clearly showing that the people are not interested any more.

Don't know about worlwide sales, but PC type devices will eventually outnumber TVs, of which there are on average four per US household.

We have eight PCs in our home and one in colo. The problem is managing all of them. It's a pain and it takes way too much time.

In fact, there were studies conducted in Israel that clearly show that the learning processes is inhibited when students use PCs. It inhibits the thinking process.

The PC is nothing more than a tool. And while tools inhibit nothing, any tool, by itself, also motivates nothing. Inspiration to discover, learn, understand and create comes from somewhere else, like people who appreciate the sacredness of trees.

http://www.treepeople.org/tree...

PS. The question to the Sequoia's answer of change or die is, "Which path does a Sequoia take?"
metroshark 12/5/2012 | 12:32:25 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux Why the assumption of "100 million active users of internet at that time". Considering the world population the 100 million sounds low to me even if you say at any time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Very simple. Assume 6 billion people in the world. Let's be optimistic and assume one tenth of them have high speed Internet access by 2005. This is not practical as less than 10 percent of the population in US has broadband Internet access, but less keep the optimistic estimate for argument's sake. That brings the number of potential high speed Internet users down to 600 million. Again, let's make a very optimistic assumption that the average user out of this 600 million is using Internet continously for 4 hours every day. That brings the number of active users at any given time down to 100 million.
cronian 12/5/2012 | 12:32:24 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux The only way I see all of this bandwith being used is for some sort of video. As people start to get enough bandwidth they can start downloading movies and TV shows along with music which should greatly increase global bandwidth. I would suspect that internet traffic growth would correlate directly with P2P use.
metroshark 12/5/2012 | 12:32:24 AM
re: Report: Internet Traffic Boom Redux The only way I see all of this bandwith being used is for some sort of video. As people start to get enough bandwidth they can start downloading movies and TV shows along with music which should greatly increase global bandwidth. I would suspect that internet traffic growth would correlate directly with P2P use.

I agree. Let them build the last mile infrastructure and the applications will come. The question is can carriers afford to build the residential access infrastructure at rates that will scale in line with the bandwidth growth predictions published in this article?
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