Internet traffic growth slowing, research firm shows

For the second consecutive year, total international Internet capacity grew faster than total Internet traffic.

Despite prognostications that the Internet is about to collapse from the weight of traffic growth -- especially video -- international Internet traffic grew 53 percent between mid-2007 and mid-2008, down from 61 percent the preceding year, according to a market research firm.

For the second consecutive year, total international Internet capacity grew faster than total Internet traffic, leading to lower utilization levels on many Internet backbones, according to market tracker TeleGeography. Between 2007 and 2008, average traffic utilization levels decreased from 31 percent to 29 percent, while peak utilization fell from 44 percent to 43 percent, the firm found.

The aggregate trend toward lower utilization of capacity belies "significant" regional differences, according to TeleGeography. While utilization on international links to Europe and Asia fell in 2008, they rose in the United States, Canada and Latin American, where traffic growth outpaced the deployment of new Internet bandwidth, the firm asserts.

Traffic growth between the United States and Latin America surged 112 percent while traffic on Internet backbones between major cities in the more mature U.S. market rose 47 percent.

Traffic growth has remained strong, even though the pace of broadband subscriber growth has declined, according to TeleGeography. Broadband subscriber growth has been slowing since 2001, but the volume of traffic generated by each user has grown, the firm states.

Traffic growth is fueled by consumer demand for video, delivered via Web browsers, peer-to-peer services, or streaming protocols, TeleGeography says.

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Jim Duffy

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