Market Studies

Internet Growth 2006
Traffic on the Internet

Publication Date: October 2006

Overview | TOC | TOF


This report forecasts how much traffic will be carried for the period to the end of this decade, on the Internet backbone and on the total national North American. Given this statement of purpose for the report, it is interesting to note that there really is no Internet backbone or North American network, in the sense of an individual entity. In the past, one could, indeed, speak of and measure the backbone traffic on the North American network. The old AT&T reported traffic loads between its Class 1 offices and the relative traffic carried on its high-usage subnet. These were real numbers that could be very accurately measured, monitored, and used as the basis of forecasts for growth.

This has all changed with the transformation to a data-based network with multiple owners. Now one is hard pressed to identify exactly what the Internet backbone is, much less to accurately measure the traffic carried on it.

Given this state of confusion and lack of physical reality of an Internet backbone, one may question the value of a report on forecast traffic. However, while the physical reality is no longer identifiable and measurable, the amount and growth of traffic going across our (somewhat imaginary) Internet backbone is still very real and of great importance. It is the growth of this traffic that

  • Determines the need for equipment additions by the multitudes of carriers contributing to the various segments of this network of networks
  • Supports facility additions (fiber and fiber routes)
  • Requires additions to cable company networks (for high-speed) data
  • Defines the need for higher-speed accesses and all the equipment associated with providing that extra speed
  • Supports the ever-increasing need for safety of data, continuity of service, and privacy of data
  • Suggests the growing value of advertising and similar activities on the Internet

For all of these reasons, knowledge of the future of traffic on the segments of the network and of total traffic is indispensable to all those involved in making plans for the network and all of its subparts.

We recently published a report, “How Much Bandwidth Is Enough in the Access Network” (available from IGI), addressing the question of how much bandwidth service providers needed to plan for in the last-mile plant. That report evaluated end-user tendencies to use bandwidth for video (primarily) and data access (voice being so small that it is only considered peripherally). This report is a companion report that considers the big picture of how much traffic is carried on the backbone network. The “How Much is Enough …” report is concerned with micro issues; this report is concerned with macro issues.

This report begins with a discussion of our basic approach to forecasting Internet traffic. It continues with our:

  • New forecasts for high-speed access growth
  • New forecasts for the high-speed (xDSL, cable modem, and RF) lines and traffic from high-speed access lines
  • New forecasts for the various segments of the usage on access lines (email, searches, file sharing, instant messaging, and miscellaneous, as well as subdivisions of some of these)
  • New FTTP lines and traffic forecast
  • New dial-up data lines forecast and associated traffic forecast
  • New international traffic forecasts
  • Forecasts for various special segments — VoIP, other data networks, private lines networks
  • Long-distance voice

Finally, the report brings all of the parts together for total network forecasts. As the report proceeds through this list of traffic sources, it provides sketches to illustrate the location of the traffic segment in the network. Major conclusions from the report are presented in a separate section.

The Appendixes provide a discussion of IPTV and a forecast for IPTV traffic. Also, extensive material is in the Appendixes, to help the reader with the various traffic concepts in this report.

Table of Contents


Approach to Forecasting Traffic on the Internet

Total Network Traffic

High-Speed Access Lines

High-Speed Access Lines Forecast

Rationale for Updating the High-Speed Access Lines Forecast

New H-S Lines Forecast

Household Penetration – New Forecast

Traffic Forecast for H-S Users

H-S Line Traffic

Rationale for Updating the Traffic Forecast H-S Lines

New H-S per Line Traffic Forecast

Change to 75% of BH to Average

Components of BH Traffic Change Over Time

New Forecast of Internet Traffic from H-S Lines

Dial-up Traffic

FTTP Traffic

Total Internet Traffic Forecast

Lightwave Network

Network Location of Internet Traffic

Internet Traffic Forecast

Other Traffic Types on the Backbone Network

International Traffic

Network Location of International Traffic

Forecast for International Traffic

VoIP Traffic

Location of VoIP Traffic on the Network

Forecast for VoIP Traffic

Other Data Networks

Location of Other Network Traffic

Forecast for Other Network Traffic

Private Line Networks

Location of Private Line Traffic

Forecast for Private Line Traffic

Voice Traffic

Location of Voice Traffic

Forecast for Voice Traffic

Total Backbone Traffic

Growth of the Internet

Appendix I – IPTV

IPTV Global Architecture

Super Hub Office

Video Hub Office

Serving Offices

Forecast for IPTV Traffic

Appendix II, Traffic Statistics Relationships

Appendix III, Data Traffic Fundamentals

Internet Traffic Calculations

Bits and Bytes

Transfer Rate

Busy Hour Traffic

Protocol Efficiencies

Statistical Multiplexing


Summary of Concepts

Table of Figures

Figure 1, Premise for Forecasting Traffic on the Internet
Figure 2, Internet Traffic Formula
Figure 3, Old Forecast - H-S Lines
Figure 4, New H-S Access Forecast
Figure 5, Comparison of Old (2003) and New (2006) Forecasts
Figure 6, xDSL Catches CMs
Figure 7, H-S Access HH Penetration Rate - New Forecast
Figure 8, Details of New Forecast
Figure 9, BH H-S per Line Usage Old Forecast
Figure 10, Original per Line BH Traffic Forecast
Figure 11, New Forecast for Per Line Traffic
Figure 12, Components of New Forecast for per Line Usage in BH
Figure 13, Components of the Total per Line BH Traffic Estimates
Figure 14, Changes in per Line BH Usage Components
Figure 15, File Sharing Component Decomposition
Figure 16, File Sharing Components – 2006
Figure 17, File Sharing Components in 2010
Figure 18, File Sharing Components Change Over Time
Figure 19, Internet Traffic Formula
Figure 20, Forecast for Internet Traffic from H-S Accesses
Figure 21, Old Forecast for H-S Traffic
Figure 22, Dial-up Lines Forecast
Figure 23, Dial-Up Traffic Forecast
Figure 24, H-S vs. Dial-Up Traffic
Figure 25, Ratio of H-S Traffic to FTTP per Line Traffic
Figure 26, FTTP Line Forecast
Figure 27, FTTP Traffic
Figure 28, Lightwave Network
Figure 29, Network Location - Internet Traffic
Figure 30, Internet Total Traffic Forecast
Figure 31, Internet Traffic Change over Time
Figure 32, Network Location of International Traffic
Figure 33, International Traffic
Figure 34, Location of VoIP Traffic
Figure 35, VoIP Traffic
Figure 36, Location of Other Network Traffic
Figure 37, Other Data Networks
Figure 38, Location of Private Line Traffic
Figure 39, Private Line Networks
Figure 40, Location of Voice Traffic
Figure 41, Voice Traffic
Figure 42, Total Traffic Forecast
Figure 43, Backbone Growth Rates
Figure 44, Internet Growth Rate - New Forecast
Figure 45, IPTV Global Architecture
Figure 46, IPTV Traffic
Figure 47, Bandwidth Requirements - Improved Compression
Figure 48, Traffic/Speed Relationships
Figure 49, Example of Various Traffic Sizes
Figure 50, New Transfer Rate Forecast
Figure 51, Summary of Concepts