off-topic: historical query concerning the Internet bubble

Frank A. Coluccio frank at
Mon Aug 9 15:01:12 UTC 2010

Capacity ".... as measured by OC12-miles,
doubles every four months..."
Now that's a fascinating form of metric in itself.
Distance * bit-rate equals capacity? What happened
to the 'traffic' component? Likewise, what does this
say regarding the various thresholds for refreshing
bandwidth that individual operators have set as
defaults, i.e., 20%, or 50%, or even 90%, before
pulling the trigger and lighting up the next OC 'n'?
Some providers tweaked 'n tuned their networks until
the cows came home, others threw bandwidth 'lavishly'
at the first inkling of the next plateau being reached.
Even full disclosure by all Tier Ones concerning the
number of OC-12 ports they were using, under these
conditions, couldn't give an accurate picture of
actual traffic levels being supported, IMO.

   --- odlyzko at wrote:
   From: odlyzko at (Andrew Odlyzko)
   To: randy at
   Cc: nanog at
   Subject: Re: off-topic: historical query concerning the Internet bubble
   Date: Sun, 08 Aug 2010 08:30:44 -0500
   Fascinating.  Memories may be plastic (something that has been
   established scientifically), or else we may have yet another
   inconsistency to add to the pile of others.  Is there any
   documentation about the "doubling every nine months"?  I have
   never seen that particular claim emanating from anyone involved
   with WorldCom/UUNet.
   On the other hand, existing record shows (among others):
   1.  U.S. Department of Commerce white paper from April 1998,
   on p. 8 declares that "UUNET, one of the largest Internet
   backbone providers, estimates that Internet traffic doubles
   every 100 days," with a reference to an Inktomi white paper
   that attributes this claim to Mike O'Dell.  The Inktomi
   report is no longer on the Web, but I can provide a copy
   to anyone interested.
   2.  The transcript of the May 2000 presentation by O'Dell
   at a Stanford conference clearly has him saying that the
   capacity of the UUNet network, as measured by OC12-miles,
   doubles every four months,
   As is explained in my paper, in the 1998-2000 time frame,
   essentially all the WorldCom/UUNet claims then seemed to be
   about capacity, not traffic.
   3.  The year-end 2000 email from O'Dell to Dave Farber's IP list,
   has him talking of traffic doubling each year, while capacity
   grows 8-fold.
   If some time in that period there was a claim of a "doubling
   every nine months," too, that would be very interesting.
   Randy Bush <randy at> wrote:
   > >> my memory is that he said doubling every nine months.
   > > Mine too.
   > mo's too.  i asked.
   > randy

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