How big is the Internet?

Leo Bicknell bicknell at
Thu Aug 15 20:10:31 UTC 2013

On Aug 15, 2013, at 1:27 PM, Patrick W. Gilmore <patrick at> wrote:

> My laptop at home is an edge node under the definition above, despite being behind a NAT. My home NAS is as well. When I back up my laptop to my NAS over my home network, that traffic would be counted as "Internet" traffic by your definition.
> I have a feeling that does not come close to matching the mental model most people have in their head of "Internet traffic". But maybe I'm confused.

It matches my mental model.  Your network is connected to the Internet, that's traffic between two hosts, it's Internet traffic.

Let's take the same two machines, but I own one and you own one, and let's put them on the same network behind a NAT just like your home, but at a coffee shop.  Rather than backups we're both running bit torrent and our two machines exchange data.

That's Internet traffic, isn't it?  Two unrelated people talking over the network?  They just happen to be on the same LAN.

My definition was arbitrary, so feel free to argue another arbitrary definition is more useful in some way, but for my arbitrary definition you've applied the rules correct, and I would argue it's the right way to think about things.  In a broad english sense "IP packets traversing an Internet connected network are Internet traffic".

It's all graph cross sections.  "Peering" volume totals a set of particular links in the graph, omitting traffic from your laptop to your file server, or your NAS to your laptop.  My model attempts to isolate every edge on the graph, and generate the total sum of IP traffic crossing any Internet connected network, which would always include all forms of local caches (Akamai, Google, Netflix) and even your NAT.  I think that's a more interesting number, and a number that's easier to count and defend than say a peering or "backbone" number.

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at - CCIE 3440
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