How Big Is the Internet? (Spoiler: Not As Big As It’ll Be in 2015)

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Just how big is the internet? Well, here’s a way of estimating it: Every hour, enough information is consumed by internet traffic to fill 7 million DVDs. And four years from now, it’ll be four times larger than that.

Cisco, which releases a Visual Networking Index forecast about the scale of web traffic every year, estimates that by 2015, 966 exabytes of information will be consumed annually by the internet – an increase of 200 exabytes over the estimate for 2014, which is itself more than the amount of all 2010 information consumption online.

By comparison, it took until 2004 for monthly internet traffic to pass 1 exabyte for the first time (For those wondering what an exabyte is, it’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes; it was once estimated by UC Berkeley that “all words ever spoken by human beings” could be stored in 5 exabytes, although that would likely have to be in text format).

The increase in web traffic is expected to come mostly from consumers, with Cisco estimating that households will be responsible for 87% of that four-times jump in the next four years, with video-on-demand also jumping to 61% of all web traffic, compared with 40% now. US households are expected to consume 100 gigabytes of web traffic per month by 2015, according to the company.

So, how big is the internet? Right now, pretty big… but apparently nowhere near as big as it’s going to get within the next few years.