Last summer, a number of big ISPs discontinued their Usenet offerings as a response to an anti-child porn initiative led by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who had called Usenet a major source of child pornography. Time Warner completely gave up on offering Usenet to its customers and Sprint as well as Verizon deleted all alt.* groups from their service. Comcast and RCN quickly followed suit and shut down their own Usenet offerings.

Critics complained that this was an overly broad response to a very small problem. Giganews Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Vogelpohl told me back then that his company offered access to 3.7 billion postings in 110,000 newsgroups. In other words: A lot of content, especially if you consider that Cuomo's office found 11,390 child-porn images in 88 newsgroups. I've been saying all along that ISPs simply wanted to cut costs by shuttering their Usenet offerings, but people in the entertainment industry concerned with piracy were obviously happy as well about big ISPs abandoning Usenet.

Except, it didn't actually change much. If anything, Usenet actually got bigger after Time Warner & Co. left the party, according to Giganews' Edward Henigin, who shared a few statistics about the global Usenet feed at one of the recent North American Network Operators Group meetings. Henigin told the Nanog audience that Usenet has seen a 26 percent annual growth over the last four years, averaging around 500Mbps at the end of this summer.

giganews stats

Giganews did notice a big dip when Time Warner & Co. pulled the plug last summer, but this was actually followed by an even bigger spike. Henigin didn't elaborate on how to explain the spike, but one can safely assume that it was caused by people signing up for commercial Usenet services after their ISPs left them in the cold.

giganews stats

Henigin also shared a few interesting facts about the amount of storage needed to keep one trailing year of the full Usenet feed. Currently, you'd need around 1700 Terabyte if you'd want to offer what's also know as one year retention. At the end of next year, it will take around 2500 Terabye.

giganews stats

That's a lot of data, but actually not that much storage in an age where your local electronics store offers terabyte drives for around 100 bucks. "It may be within reach to never expire articles again," said Henigin.

Tags: , , , , ,