The Internet: evolution and growth statistics | Stackscale

The Internet has evolved unstoppable since its origins and has become an essential tool for many people around the world — more than 5,500 million individuals use it regularly. It has not only accelerated communications worldwide, but has also enabled new forms of social interaction.

Here are some interesting statistics and facts about the evolution of the Internet and its exponential growth.

The Internet: the network of networks

The Internet is a global system of interconnected networks — public, private, academic, government and business. It is also commonly known as the “network of networks”, and it is not to be confused with the World Wide Web.

Nowadays, the Internet is based on huge data centers and infrastructures such as Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) that help accelerate communications among all of the networks that integrate it. However, it is also worth mentioning its origins and foundations: ARPANET and the TCP/IP protocol suite.

ARPANET

ARPANET, short for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, was a precursor network of the Internet, initially intended as a backbone for interconnecting regional academic and military networks in order to share resources. The project was led by ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense. 

The TCP/IP protocol suite

The TCP/IP or Internet protocol suite provides end-to-end data communication, by organizing the set of communication protocols used in the Internet and other similar computer networks. The Internet uses the TCP/IP protocol suite to transfer data between networks and devices.

Open Internet and Net Neutrality

Back to the present, as the Internet has gained popularity and become part of our daily lives, numerous questions have arised as well. This is the case of the Open Internet and Net neutrality or Network Neutrality.

The Open Internet and Net neutrality principles establish that ISPs must treat all Internet traffic equally, without any discrimination, blocking or prioritization. It is to say, users are not charged different fees depending on the content, website or application they access.

The term “net neutrality” was coined by Tim Wu, professor of law at Columbia University in 2003.

New paradigms and phenomena

Moreover, new trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) raise awareness about new issues and phenomena. For instance, the exponential growth in the number of connected IoT devices has led to new paradigms such as edge computing and the huge growth in enterprise data due to data-intensive applications has drawn attention to the data gravity phenomenon.

Internet users growth from 1995 to 2022

One of the statistics that clearly shows its exponential growth of the Internet is the number of global users.The number of users worldwide has experienced astonishing growth over the last decades. From 1995 to 2022, the number of Internet users around the world has rocketed from 16 millions to more than 5,500 millions, according to Internet World Stats.

Million Internet users from 1995 to 2022
Year Number of Internet users
1995 16 million users
1996 36 million users
1997 70 million users
1998 147 million users
1999 248 million users
2000 361 million users
2001 513 million users
2002 587 million users
2003 719 million users
2004 817 million users
2005 1,018 million users
2006 1,093 million users
2007 1,319 million users
2008 1,574 million users
2009 1,802 million users
2010 1,971 million users
2011 2,267 million users
2012 2,497 million users
2013 2,802 million users
2014 3,079 million users
2015 3,366 million users
2016 3,696 million users
2017 4,156 million users
2018 4,313 million users
2019 4,536 million users
2020 5,053 million users
2021 5,252 million users
2022 5,544 million users

The Opte Project, by Barrett Lyon, offers an interesting view of the evolution of the network of networks from 1997 to 2021. Besides, its rapid growth is also noticeable in facts such as the depletion of IPv4 or the significant growth in Internet traffic globally.

International bandwidth usage by region from 2017 to 2022

International bandwidth usage also shows a significant increase over the years, according to data from ITU. The total international bandwidth usage has surpassed 1200 Tbit/s by 2022, as shown in the graph below.

International bandwidth usage by region from 2017 to 2022

Asia-Pacific, Europe and Americas are the leading regions in terms of international bandwidth usage. However, Africa is the region that has experienced the highest growth in 2022 (+39%), followed by the Americas and the Arab States (+30%), other economies (+27%), Europe (+25%), Asia-Pacific (+22%) and CIS (+20%).

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Africa 5 Tbit/s 7 Tbit/s 10 Tbit/s 21 Tbit/s 28 Tbit/s 39 Tbit/s
Americas 52 Tbit/s 71 Tbit/s 101 Tbit/s 135 Tbit/s 172 Tbit/s 224 Tbit/s
Arab States 13 Tbit/s 18 Tbit/s 24 Tbit/s 32 Tbit/s 42 Tbit/s 55 Tbit/s
Asia-Pacific 124 Tbit/s 175 Tbit/s 248 Tbit/s 311 Tbit/s 442 Tbit/s 542 Tbit/s
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 11 Tbit/s 11 Tbit/s 13 Tbit/s 17 Tbit/s 20 Tbit/s 24 Tbit/s
Europe 61 Tbit/s 86 Tbit/s 120 Tbit/s 152 Tbit/s 195 Tbit/s 244 Tbit/s
Other economies 26 Tbit/s 38 Tbit/s 44 Tbit/s 52 Tbit/s 80 Tbit/s 102 Tbit/s

Social media

Social interactions have also been accelerated through Social Media usage. A huge amount of actions are generated on the Internet in 1 minute, for instance:

  • About 600,000 tweets are sent.
  • More than 5,7 million videos are watched on YouTube.
  • About 188 million emails are sent.

To sum up, the network of networks continues to expand and gain popularity among citizens worldwide. This growth also contributes to accelerating digitization processes and encourages the adoption of new technologies and services.