TREND: The explosion in data traffic will require network operators to invest in upgrading their communications infrastructure at the same time as their core revenue streams and profits are being squeezed an expanding range of data hungry “over-the-top” services and applications (e.g. Skype, FaceTime…etc)
OECD figures show that Internet traffic has risen by 13,000% in the last decade (World Economic Forum 2012, page 59), with more digital information created in 2008-2011 than in all of previous recorded history. In the developed world this explosion in traffic has put network operators under pressure to implement expensive upgrades to their communications infrastructure at the same time as their core revenue streams and profits are being squeezed by competing “over-the-top” services (Skype, FaceTime….etc).
In a context where there is no limit to the number and range of new data hungry services and applications Internet companies can offer consumers, the incentives for facility based Internet service providers to introduce traffic monitoring, inspection and network management regimes to cope with this new traffic will only increase with time. These monitoring/management systems can serve to optimise network performance and protect consumers from online threats – but they also raise questions about the security and privacy of consumer data. They also threaten to undermine the principle of network neutrality whereby network operators refrain from discriminating between different types of services, content and applications transmitted by their networks/infrastructure.