The Internet: evolution and growth statistics

Internet: the network of networks

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, 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
YearNumber of Internet users
199516 million users
199636 million users
199770 million users
1998147 million users
1999248 million users
2000361 million users
2001513 million users
2002587 million users
2003719 million users
2004817 million users
20051,018 million users
20061,093 million users
20071,319 million users
20081,574 million users
20091,802 million users
20101,971 million users
20112,267 million users
20122,497 million users
20132,802 million users
20143,079 million users
20153,366 million users
20163,696 million users
20174,156 million users
20184,313 million users
20194,536 million users
20205,053 million users
20215,252 million users
20225,544 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%).

Africa5 Tbit/s7 Tbit/s10 Tbit/s21 Tbit/s28 Tbit/s39 Tbit/s
Americas52 Tbit/s71 Tbit/s101 Tbit/s135 Tbit/s172 Tbit/s224 Tbit/s
Arab States13 Tbit/s18 Tbit/s24 Tbit/s32 Tbit/s42 Tbit/s55 Tbit/s
Asia-Pacific124 Tbit/s175 Tbit/s248 Tbit/s311 Tbit/s442 Tbit/s542 Tbit/s
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)11 Tbit/s11 Tbit/s13 Tbit/s17 Tbit/s20 Tbit/s24 Tbit/s
Europe61 Tbit/s86 Tbit/s120 Tbit/s152 Tbit/s195 Tbit/s244 Tbit/s
Other economies26 Tbit/s38 Tbit/s44 Tbit/s52 Tbit/s80 Tbit/s102 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.

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