A new USTelecom analysis of the latest annual Internet Protocol (IP) traffic data from the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) shows that U.S. IP traffic quadrupled over the last five years, and it is expected to grow two-and-a-half times again over the next five years. See Chart 1. The acceleration toward online and mobile video, and other new applications such as the Internet of Things and analytics, will be significant drivers of traffic growth and network investment in the coming years. The U.S. today remains a world leader in Internet usage, having closed the gap with current world leader South Korea and expanded its lead over other industrialized nations. In fact, the VNI projects that in the next several years the U.S. will overtake South Korea. See Chart 5. Thus, compared to global peers the U.S. has been gaining ground.
Massive investment in broadband infrastructure, along with the development of compelling applications and content, has driven U.S. global leadership in Internet usage. Since the commercialization of the Internet in the 1990s, U.S. firms have built an Internet ecosystem that is the envy of the world under a bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework. Ongoing investment in broadband networks, especially wireline networks, will be critical in accommodating expected traffic growth, attaining the economic benefits of increased migration to IP networks, and maintaining our international leadership. The recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shift to regulate broadband providers with utility rules under Title II of the Communications Act imposes burdens on and creates uncertainty for network providers, putting pressure on broadband investment over time and risking U.S. global leadership.