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Minnesota Internet Traffic Studies (MINTS)

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Extreme example of unsubstantiated traffic estimates, projections, and policy recommendations

An article Point of disconnect: Internet traffic and the U.S. communications infrastructure by Michael Kleeman in Converge! Network Digest, dated Sept. 11, 2007, claims that "We have reached a point of disconnect between the traditional voice, Internet and broadcast video network architectures and the needs of today's customers." But the only hard data that is supplied in the article is a chart showing US Internet traffic from 1970 to 2010. The volume of Internet traffic for 2007 on the chart is about 3 Tbps, which is about 1,000 times actual volume (as estimated in this and other studies). This estimate is easily seen to be ludicrous, even without checking what the actual traffic volume is, since that it corresponds to average traffic of about 10 Mbps per person in the US.

The source of the chart is given as "Internet growth trends," Dr. Lawrence G. Roberts, Chairman, Packetcom Inc. As was pointed out by Frank Coluccio, this chart was published in the December 1999 issue of IEEE Computer, Larry Roberts article. There are some questions about the correctness of the Roberts article, but even aside from that, using projections from 1999 to estimate actual traffic in 2007 is more than a little questionable, and leads to the 1,000-fold difference between claims and reality. Any policy recommendations based on such unsubstantiated estimates should be treated with great caution.