Friday, October 24, 2008

How Much Will Network Traffic Grow?

Probably the biggest issue in planning for a network for 2020 will be the amount of trafficthat it will have to support. Network traffic has been growing by about 50 percent per year over the last 10 years. At this rate, the amount of traffic will be 100 times what it is today.

The question is how long will this party go on? It seems reasonable that this torrid rate of growth will have to moderate at some point of time. Any decrease in this rate of growth will certainly make life easier for the carriers. They would be able to reduce their investment in their networks.

It is clear that wireless networks are just now starting to see the impact of the growth of data services on their networks. The iPhone and similar devices are bringing a new set of Internet users to mobile networks. This is only the start. During the next decade most mobile users will be making extensive use of data services.

This means that the growth of data usage on mobile networks will probably grow faster than 50 percent per year over the next several years and grow at a rate similar to wireline networks after that.

It is hard to see what will continue drive growth on wireline networks at such high rates. I believe that it will be video and TV content. TV content will particularly important based on the increasing popularity of HD and 1080p.

Over the last 15 years there have been a steady stream of new applications that generate ever increasing amounts of traffic. I am not going to bet that this innovation has stopped. I think that anybody thinking about networks for 2020 must assume a factor 100 increase in traffic.

No comments: