What goes up must come down is true for balloons and the stock market but, at least to this point, not for the Internet.
The explosive growth is tracked by this cool chart that shows the gains made since 1995 to last month. In 1995, 16 million people-0.4 percent of the world's population-was online. Last month, 1.971 billion people, accounting for 28.8 percent of the population, were.
The upward spiral continues: TeleGeography indirectly makes the point in its measurement of international traffic emanating from various regions. It found that from mid-2009 to the middle of this year, international traffic from Eastern Europe and India/South Asia increased by more than 100 percent, with the Middle East just under that mark. Overall, international traffic increased 62 percent during the time frame. That compares pretty well to the previous year, when the increase was 74 percent.
The highest-profile reason that traffic continues to increase is that more people are online longer, their sessions are longer and what they are doing-streaming and uploading video and other capacity-hogging endeavors-is chewing up bandwidth as fast as carriers and service providers dish it up.
Running under the radar screen is the fact that the Internet simply is available to more people. For instance, the International Business Times says that the Indian government plans to add 150 billion rupees to the 240 billion rupees already slated to connect villages via telephony and the Internet. This is a reservoir of huge proportions. Another potential growth engine is China. Xinhuanet.com reports that the Internet growth rate in rural China from 2007 to 2009 was 71.6 percent per year, which was more than double the urban rate of 34.6 percent. The story makes no projections, but there is little reason to think that the rate will do anything but accelerate.
The signs all point to continued growth: During the coming months and years, the Internet will be characterized by an increase in bandwidth eaters such as video, the enfranchisement of more areas to which little attention has traditionally been paid and the increased tactical use of the Internet for mundane machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. Individually, M2M tasks use little bandwidth, but they cumulatively use a great deal.
What goes does, indeed come down-eventually. But, for the Internet, that time won't come for quite some time.