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Internet Growth Rates

Go thoughtfully in the knowledge that all interplanetary communication derives from the modulation of radiated energy, and sometimes a planet will be between the source and the destination. Therefore rely not on end-to-end connectivity at any time, for the universe does not work that way.

- S. Burleigh; Desiderata of Interplanetary Internetworking, May, 2001.

The growth rate of the Internet exceeds that of any previous technology. Measured by users and bandwidth, Internet has been growing at a rapid rate since its conception, on a curve geometric and sometimes exponential.

Today, the Internet is growing exponentially in three different directions -- size, processing power, and software sophistication -- making it the fastest growing technology humankind has ever created:

  • Size. The graphs in the historical statistics section show the exponential rate of growth in the number of people that use the Internet. Soon more than half the world's population will have access to the Internet.
  • Power. As first appreciated at the Dartmouth AI Conference in 1956, computer processors and storage continue to double in power and capacity about every 18 months, providing steadily more powerful computers for use by increasing sophisticated software.
  • Functionality. Software applications from routing programs to browser applications continually build on previous technology to become more sophisticated with every release, continuously evolving to incorporate new features and capabilities.