Wireless growth exploding, but wireline growth may actually be slowing...
Last week we explored
how companies like AT&T use cherry picked data, think tanks and policy groups like the Internet Innovation Alliance to promote the idea that we're facing a horrible bandwidth crisis (aka the "exaflood"). According to these lobbyists and PR wizards, this bandwidth apocalypse can only be avoided if you give incumbent ISPs what they want; namely lower taxes, government subsidies, less regulation (or more regulation if it helps them), and the right to implement metered billing
Be it telecom or any other field, bad ideas are usually more easily pushed forth under a climate of fear. But once again, data from outside of the world of incumbent ISP spin suggests that any future growth can easily be handled by reasonable traffic upgrades. Over the weekend the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Internet Traffic Studies (MINTS) compiled the latest set of data
concerning the growth of Internet traffic from a flurry of global sources
across a slew of different backbones.
According to MINTS, while wireless data growth is exploding, wireline network traffic is increasing at a fairly modest clip: 50 to 60% per year. That's substantially less than last week's report by AT&T, which predicted that sustained growth of 100% or more would result in Internet "brownouts" over the next few years.
"The basic, and highly debatable, assumption behind (the Nemertes data), though, is that traffic is growing at 100% per year or more, and will continue to do so for the next half a dozen years," says the report. "So far there is little evidence of that, though." In fact, the evidence indicates if anything, global traffic may be declining from the 50-60% annual growth rate.
European Internet exchanges saw a decline in annual growth rate of 56% over the past year
-- down from 84% the year before. TERENA, a consortium of European national research and education networks, showed a growth rate
(pdf) of just 46% per year, with signs of a slowdown. Equinix reported
that in the U.S., its total network access traffic grew 34% compared to the previous year, while Cogent -- who last quarter saw their first ever traffic decline
, saw traffic grow 5% compared to the second quarter, and 24% compared to a year earlier.
Again, there is absolutely no evidence that Internet growth is accelerating so quickly that carriers can't manage it with modest capacity improvements.