Commentary

An Awful Lot of Petabits

An Awful Lot of Petabits

Lawrence Roberts, a computer-communications pioneer who was a key figure in the ancestor of today's Internet in 1969, released data recently indicating that Internet traffic in the first six months of this year doubled, and likely will quadruple by the end of the year. Roberts' company analyzed traffic entering the networks of the top 19 Internet carriers.

Measurements taken by the scientist and his research team illustrate that online traffic has never grown faster, though his conclusions fly in the face of an article by the Internet Standard magazine questioning whether the Internet's growth was slowing, making it yet another victim of this year's dot-com business bust.

Roberts said he decided to do his own study to determine the actual rate of Internet growth, since his company builds the core routers used by many Internet service providers. He said, "I know exactly how to back-compute from (the carrier trunks) what the actual entering traffic is." Network traffic was sampled in April 2000, October 2000 and April 2001. Roberts said he can make projections about the Net's future.

He doesn't expect to see the Internet slowing down because the "cost per bit for the Internet is about 16 times less than voice," he said. "My calculation is that in 2008, we'll come up to a point where the voice and data and cable revenue are equal, and will all be carried on the Internet."

By his calculations, each carrier will have to quadruple capacity each year, so that in the year 2008 they're into 10 petabits where each petabit is equal to 1 million gigabits of information.

Do the numbers!

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