Internet Keeps Growing! Traffic up 62% in 2010

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):