The amount of information transmitted globally over the Internet will continue to double each year over the next five years, according to research released by IDC.
In 2002, the traffic volume was 180 petabits per day (one petabit equals one million gigabits). IDC predicted this figure will increase to 5,175 petabits per day by 2007.
The main driver will be a move to broadband access by existing users rather than growth in subscribers to the internet. Broadband adoption by consumers will be the largest and fastest-growing sector of the Internet traffic market by 2007.
By that time, consumers will account for 60% of all internet traffic, compared with 40% for business users. Mobile Internet users will have a minimal effect on traffic volumes.
The strong growth pattern has interesting implications for the telecommunications industry as a whole and for telecommunications equipment suppliers in particular.
First, the malaise in the telecommunications market cannot be attributed to slowing growth of internet traffic, as some industry observers have suggested.
Second, as traffic continues to grow strongly, carriers will be looking to buy next-generation optical equipment which is faster and more efficient than that based on today's SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) technology.
This may include the Optical Transport Networks (OTN) standard which has been adopted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as a proposed standard to be known as ITU-T-G.709.
OTN aims to increase network bandwidth, reducing the need to convert optical signals into electrical signals.