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ISP Admits Internet Traffic Is Actually Declining

from the but-what-about-the-exaflood? dept

For quite some time, we’ve been pointing out that all the fear mongering from lobbyists and politicians about a coming “exaflood” of bandwidth that will wipe out the internet unless ISPs are allowed to double charge for the same bandwidth, is something of a myth. Instead, it turns out that traffic appears to be slowing its growth trajectory somewhat. The latest to agree with this is Cogent, who supplies plenty of bandwidth, but actually found overall traffic decline last quarter. Apparently, the unstoppable march of bandwidth consumption isn’t as threatening as some would have you believe.

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Companies: cogent

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Comments on “ISP Admits Internet Traffic Is Actually Declining”

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PaulT (profile) says:


This was always going to happen for three very good reasons. First of all, there’s only so many new customers. Most people who want broadband already have it. Those who don’t often live in areas where it’s difficult or expensive to get, so takeup of new subscribers is going to slow down.

Second, as new services come in, they’re more often than not replacing illegal services. For example, if a person uses Hulu instead of YouTube or BitTorrent to watch a TV show, that’s not new bandwidth usage but a new use for the same bandwidth. I think most of the doomsday predictions assumed that legal use would be in addition to the old infringing traffic.

Third is the lack of new applications. Most people use the majority of their bandwidth to download or stream entertainment, play games or use services like Skype or internet radio. Other services (browsing, email, IM, etc) are low-bandwidth cost. Unless a totally new kind of service hits with high bandwidth requirements in the next couple of years, the bandwidth useage is only going to stabilise.

Shohat says:

Cognitive Dissonance much ?

One ISP in the US says that it has experienced a decline in traffic, and your headline includes “Internet Traffic is Declining” ?!
US is a mature, even saturated market, which a large % of not-so-savvy users.

Check the numbers for China, Brazil, India. See what goes on in Japan, Eastern Europe.

This is where the real growth is happening. US traffic has little (if any) reason to increase.

Shohat says:

Re: Re: Cognitive Dissonance much ?

Actually Virgin (UK ) is one of the biggest players in that field… but..
most importantly, the pressure comes from international free market organizations, and pretty much all the technological fathers of the Intertnet (Bob Kahn, Dave Farber, etc..) along with the actual people who “run” the internet (Cisco, Alcatel, 3M, etc..) , and anti-government-regulation organizations.

And it’s more a principal of letting the government(s) regulate the Internet, or let the market do it for himself. So either way, that report, along with the headline, are simply… meh .

Personally, I am all for net neutrality. I’m just saying that the title has little to do with content, and content has little to do with anything.

dave says:

Re: Less legacy software out there

you might have a point about the bandwidth consumption of some legacy software but Lotus Notes is certainly not a good example unless you are talking about a very old version. Calling Exchange a ‘more advanced platform’ is heresy, trying to compare the 2 is like comparing apples an pears. Bear in mind that Lotus Notes is not just a mail, calendar & scheduling server, it is also a web server, an application server, a database server, news server and more and is a lot more secure than exchange …

Peter Gun says:

Re: Re: Less legacy software out there

I think he was referring to Email and you are referring to IBM/Lotus Notes marketing crap.

More and more people are moving over to Exchange/Outlook, analyst predict more than 70% of the enterprise is already on it.

What IBM does is come out with more and more products which requires more and more IBM Global Services and more and more resources to run in a DECLINING Economy !

Allen (profile) says:


Did you consider the possibility that Cogent may have simply lost market share? Their major customers are going to be multi-homed and can easily shift traffic to other networks to arbitrage pricing or whatever.

Cogent doesn’t have cancer, therefore no one has cancer? Sorry Mike, but if your going to rant about this stuff you need to start picking better examples.

D L says:

What about

Did anyone bother to point out that web apps are becoming more optimized and thus needs to send less data between points? Say if I’m searching for something, not only is Google making search faster, but it’s probably using less bandwidth than older search engines. So while searches are up due to being faster and more accurate, they use less bandwidth. Adapt this analogy to other web technologies and it’s easy to see how usage can be up while bandwidth is down.

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