Driven by broadband adoption, global internet traffic is set to nearly double every year for the next five years, industry experts have predicted.
According to IT analyst firm IDC, total traffic levels will increase from 180 petabits (Pb) per day in 2002 to 5,175Pb per day by the end of 2007.
To put its figures into perspective, the analyst pointed out that the entire printed collection of the US Library of Congress amounts to only 10 terabytes of information.
By 2007, IDC expects internet users will access, download, and share the information equivalent of the entire Library of Congress more than 64,000 times over, every day.
"Some industry observers have speculated that slowing growth in internet traffic is at the root of the current telecom malaise, but IDC research shows that not only is internet traffic growth strong, but it will continue at near triple-digit rates over the next five years," said Sterling Perrin, senior research analyst at IDC.
According to the report, Worldwide bandwidth end-user forecast and analysis, 2003-2007: More is still not enough, the substantial traffic increase will greatly affect telecoms equipment suppliers, particularly in the optical market.
"As long as the total amount of voice and data traffic on the network continues to increase then the need will arise for carriers to buy equipment, such as next-generation optical, that transports and manages it cheaper and more efficiently than the earlier generation of pure SONET-based products," said Perrin.
The IDC study found that, although growth in the number of internet users will continue to be an important traffic driver, the migration of users to broadband will be even more significant.
In particular, the analyst expects broadband adoption by consumers to be the fastest growing internet traffic segment.
By 2007, IDC believes that consumers will account for 60 per cent of all internet traffic generated, versus roughly 40 per cent for business users. Mobile internet users are expected to have only a minimal impact on overall traffic volume during the forecast period.
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