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Backbone Analysis Puts Exaflood Myth To Bed
Wireless growth exploding, but wireline growth may actually be slowing...
by Karl Bode 01:07PM Tuesday Nov 25 2008
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.

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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.


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jmn1207
Premium
join:2000-07-19
Ashburn, VA
kudos:1

2 recommendations

reply to funchords

Re: Past statistics don't always show future trends

It's simple. Some CEO can make $18 million now instead of $4 million. If the company crashes and burns while crippling an entire industry, certainly the people will bail them out with our taxes. Although the tax payer will still be left with an inadequate, overpriced infrastructure with no other options available.



jmn1207
Premium
join:2000-07-19
Ashburn, VA
kudos:1

2 recommendations

reply to FFH

Is this anything like the massive change in user actions with music listening? Are we going to have to suffer through a bunch of control freaks that will stifle innovation and hold firm to an outdated business model until the very end?



IHM
Premium,VIP
join:2001-12-18
Hamilton, ON

2 recommendations

The last mile...

Karl forgets that the last mile is the choke point and keeps focusing on undersold backbones. Upgrading the capacity of the last mile is millions of dollars with little to no return.

I don't understand what is so wrong with paying for the bandwidth you use? The "all you can eat buffet" is a terrible business plan unless you're serving garbage to senior citizens. I'd suggest that metered bandwidth would lower prices for most people AND improve network performance.
--
2 Large Bunnies...1 Dead Penguin



swhitney2003
Premium
join:2003-06-13
NH

2 recommendations

just wait

Just you wait until there isn't much more internets to go around. Eventually we will have to go out to Californie-way to get some. There will only be one computer, and we'd all have to share.