off-topic: historical query concerning the Internet bubble

Andrew Odlyzko odlyzko at
Wed Aug 11 19:34:56 UTC 2010


As I explained in an email in response to your earlier posting, my
paper makes it very clear that Mike O'Dell and John Sidgmore were,
for most of the time in the 1997-2001 time frame, talking of a
doubling every 100 days of capacity, not traffic, and only for
UUNet.  (In fact, the Sidgmore paper from Vortex98 that I have
just posted, at,
has him saying pretty explicitly that UUNet was gaining market
share, and the rest of the industry was growing more slowly.)
However, the press, and the public, assumed that the traffic
of the entire Internet was growing at those rates.  How people
could make such a mistake is a mystery that I point out as a
mystery in my paper.

In fact, the Sidgmore paper has an interesting exchange.  In
the Q&A session (included in the paper), Bob Lucky asks Sidgmore
about traffic growth, clearly assuming that Sidgmore had been
talking of traffic.  Sidgmore responds, very clearly talking
about capacity, but clearly assuming that Lucky had asked
about capacity.  So here we have a record of two people, both
industry insiders, talking past each other.  Another mystery to
add to the others.

If you want to get into this further, let's take the discussion
off-list, as I doubt this picayune non-operational matter will
interest too many folks here.

Best regards,

Jessica Yu <jyy_99 at> wrote:

> Wait a sec, you seems to assume that the 'Doubling every 100 days" statement 
> was referring to the Internet traffic not just UUNet traffic.  My recollection 
> was that the statement was referring to UUNet traffic based on the stats 
> collected in a period of time (see my previous email). That is why I urged the 
> author of the paper to make this important distinction.  If one made a 
> prediction based on stats collected and the prediction was not accurate due to 
> the imperfection of stats (in this case, it may be caused by a short term 
> growth abnormally, as Jeff Young pointed out), it is unfair to assume the person 
> misled public on purpose.
> Thanks!
> --Jessica
> ________________________________
> From: Kenny Sallee <kenny.sallee at>
> To: Jessica Yu <jyy_99 at>; Andrew Odlyzko <odlyzko at>
> Cc: nanog at
> Sent: Mon, August 9, 2010 4:01:00 PM
> Subject: Re: off-topic: historical query concerning the Internet bubble
> On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 2:52 PM, Jessica Yu <jyy_99 at> wrote: 
> I do not know if making such distinction would alter the conclusion of your
> >paper.  But, to me, there is a difference between one to predict the growth of
> >one particular network based on the stats collected than one to predict the
> >growth of the entire Internet with no solid data.
> >Thanks!--Jessica
> >
> Agree with Jessica: you can't say the 'Internet' doubles every x number of 
> days/amount of time no matter what the number of days or amount of time is.  The 
> 'Internet' is a series of tubes...hahaha couldn't help it....As we all know the 
> Internet is a bunch of providers plugged into each other.  Provider A may see an 
> 10x increase in traffic every month while provider B may not.  For example, if 
> Google makes a deal with Verizon only Verizon will see a huge increase in 
> traffic internally and less externally (or vice versa).  Until Google goes 
> somewhere else!  So the whole 'myth' of Internet doubling every 100 days to me 
> is something someone (ODell it seems) made up to appease someone higher in the 
> chain or a government committee that really doesn't get it.  IE - it's marketing 
> talk to quantify something.  I guess if all the ISP's in the world provided a 
> central repository bandwidth numbers they have on their backbone then you could 
> make up some stats about Internet traffic as a whole.  But without that - it 
> just doesn't make much sense. 
> Just my .02
> Kenny

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