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Summary:

Internet traffic has grown 62 percent in 2010, after logging a handsome 74 percent growth in 2009. The growth in traffic is coming from non-mature markets likes Eastern Europe and India where traffic growth is over 100 percent. But what does it mean?

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Whether it’s Hulu, or 85 million-plus daily tweets or millions of photos being uploaded to Facebook, Internet traffic keeps growing and growing. That’s not going to change any time soon, mostly because the Internet is now becoming a crucial part of our daily lives. In some parts of the world, it’s hard to escape the ‘net, so to speak. Soon, thanks to the mobile Internet revolution, a massive new majority is going to join the Internet.

Data from research firm Telegeography shows that Internet traffic has grown 62 percent in 2010, after logging a handsome 74 percent growth in 2009. The growth in traffic is coming from non-mature markets likes Eastern Europe and India, where traffic growth between mid-2009 and mid-2010 was in excess of 100 percent. Telegeography notes:

The regions experiencing the fastest growth in international Internet traffic between mid-year 2009 and mid-year 2010 were Eastern Europe and India/South Asia, where average traffic growth exceeded 100 percent, and the Middle East, where traffic rose just under 100 percent. Even relatively “mature” markets are still growing rapidly: western European international Internet traffic increased 66 percent, and the U.S. and Canada’s international Internet traffic climbed 54 percent.

This means the carriers, who added about 13.2 Tbps of new Internet capacity in 2010, will have to keep beefing up their networks. In comparison, carriers added 9.4 Tbps of capacity in 2009 and 6 Tbps in 2008. Compare that to 2002; we have indeed come a long way! (The chart below is from our archives.)

That said, the networks are not evenly divided. The capacity is still in abundance in larger, more mature markets, but less so in newer markets such as Africa. This will be changing soon, especially as we see deployment of new cables in those regions.

This new capacity in non-mature markets, when married to growth in wireless networks and easy availability of cheap smartphones, is going to turn the Internet on its head. A good indication of this shift can be foreseen in the growth of mobile social networking in India. As Telegeography notes:

The number of mobile social network users in India is expected to reach around 72 million by 2014, driven by the reduced cost of smartphones and the launch of 3G services, according to the latest research from Analysys Mason. The number of online social network users in India has grown by 43% to approximately 33 million unique users as of July 2010, with India emerging as the seventh largest market globally. According to the report, the increased number of social network users is driving the number of mobile social network users (around 10 million in 2009), representing around 2.2% of the total number of mobile subscribers.

This has to factor into Facebook’s future plans. Now imagine a repeat of this in Africa! You get the gist.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

  1. Om,

    As a college student, I dream of a day when high speed broadband internet is a human right. Think of how innovative all the information would be to everyone, especially those in developing countries? Yes we will level the power playing field but that’s a bigger economic pie for everyone! Innovation helps everyone’s standard go up and nothing like education can really help stop today’s world problems…

    So yes the internet use is going up (what a great trend) but hopefully we don’t continue to feed that internet/technology gap!

    -Dan

    http://www.danfonseca.wordpress.com
    http://www.twitter.com/whoisdanfonseca

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    1. Yes Dan, I hope I’m not labeled as racist or whatever here, but easy money made in India and Africa draw the research from the direction of making the web better and safer to simply making it bigger.
      There’s been said many times that globalization is a great trend but it very often results in alienation of each separate individual, and it’s quite disturbing.
      Also, there still are culture differences. I wish FB all the best, but what worked in America, may not so perfectly work in Asia. Yes, there are many unique users, but because it’s new and trendy. Once FB conquers the whole world, will it be interesting for Indians to spend their time there? Unique users are not always regular users, that’s a fact. And especially if they create their own social network, with special features that a Harvard-educated guy can’t simply come up with. I think roots do matter.

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      1. I do agree that roots matter but how about Facebook’s open graph? When FB entrenches itself all over the web making content finding and creating a social thing, will that close that alienation gap? Will it not be about what the masses like but what you and your group gravitates to?

        No worries about the possible racist comment, its perfectly clear. I do agree with the possible dilution of uniqueness that comes from globalization however can social media campion that? I mean, look at it right now. I am a college student putting my own opinion out there, showing who I am, not the “McDonaldized” version of me.

        Either way of how you see it, the perspective and disorientation that comes from articles and trends like these serve its purpose to self educate. Anyone from around the globe can understand its importance.

        Thanks again!

        -Dan

        http://www.danfonseca.wordpress.com
        http://www.twitter.com/whoisdanfonseca

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  2. Om, fantastic news. Would you please share this with AOL? During “Advertising Week,” in New York, Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau said, “the Internet after 15-plus years has still not proven itself as a branding medium. … The Web itself needs a new face lift.”

    Nick Law, North America CCO at R/GA said, “There hasn’t been a fundamental redesign of content or Web pages. (Web advertising) has failed as a rich experience compared to TV.”

    Sheez…

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  3. Great article Om.

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  4. How much of this growth is useful? if only we can find a way to cut back on the needless time people spend on the web, the medium will be more satisfying.

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  5. Wow that is truly amazing. It just keeps growing and growing.

    http://www.be-anon.net.tc

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  6. It’s fantastic to see that more individuals across the globe are able to experience the Internet and the empowering wonder it brings. There are still so many who do not yet have the capability to surf the web, and it will be a uniquely progressive, transformational period for our planet when WE can all share with each other on the Internet. These numbers prove that traffic is not unattainable, and that there are many opportunities for individuals and businesses to capture the interest of these new users with compelling, relevant, and meaningful content.

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  7. [...] interesting piece from GigaOm today. In essence, Telegeography reports that the Internet keeps growing at terrific pace, even in mature [...]

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