Governments generally took a hands-off attitude to the Internet, especially in earlier days. While this provided much flexibility and likely speeded up development of this new infrastructure, it also helped inflate the telecom bubble. It is almost certain that a simple reporting requirement as to the volume of Internet traffic (similar to what has traditionally been required for voice traffic) would have punctured the myth of "Internet traffic doubling every 100 days) and prevented the waste of over $100 billion in the United States alone on redundant long haul fiber networks.
Over the last few years, two governments have been collecting and disseminating information about Internet traffic in their countries:
- Hong Kong
The Australian Bureau of Statistics periodically publishes the report "8153.0 - Internet Activity." The report for the quarter ending June 2009 was released on September 14, 2009, and is available here.
Earlier reports (going back to the quarter ending Sept. 2000) are available here, and presumably future releases will be as well.
The Australian reports show monthly Internet traffic (defined here as downloads by business and residential customers) as follows:
|Australian Internet traffic|
The Office of the Telecommunications Authority of the Government of Hong Kong compiles extensive statistics on Internet usage. The English-language entry to the general collection of data is here and the specific statistics on customer broadband traffic downloads is available here. The following table is derived from that page.
|Hong Kong Internet traffic|
Note: For conversion purposes, it is worth mentioning that Australian data as presented in the ABS reports is in bytes, but for entire quarters. Hong Kong's OFTA data is for months, but in terms of bits, not bytes. The populations of Australia and Hong Kong are about 20 and 7 million, respectively (vs. 300 million for U.S., 130 for Japan, and 500 million for the European Union, to use round numbers).