The internet is entering its second stage as it moves to more than 12 terabits per second of traffic moving across the web.

According to the Internet Observatory Report from Arbor Networks, over the last five years internet traffic has migrated away from the traditional internet core of 10 to 12 Tier-1 international transit providers as the majority of internet traffic by volume flows directly between large content providers, datacentre/content distribution networks and consumer networks.

Consequently, most Tier-1 networks have evolved their business models away from IP wholesale transit to focus on broader cloud/enterprise services, content hosting and VPNs.

It also found that five years ago, internet traffic was proportionally distributed across tens of thousands of enterprise managed websites and servers around the world. Today, most content has increasingly migrated to a small number of very large hosting, cloud and content providers.

Out of the 40,000 routed end sites in the internet, large companies such as Limelight, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and YouTube now generate and consume 30 per cent of all internet traffic.

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, claimed that as the internet is entering its second phase, it is changing from the model created earlier this decade.

Labovitz said: “Ten to fifteen years ago it was all about contacting websites, and one of the biggest findings in this report was that there has been a consolidation of websites. Over the past two years larger organisations have been buying up the smaller websites and by July 2009, 30 per cent of the internet was owned by a few large sites.

“This is down to two reasons, the bigger domains on the internet and smaller domains moving into the cloud. This has implications for the user as we are seeing more and more content online while it is getting faster and with better quality.”

Labovitz also claimed that the way the internet is being used is also changing, as there has been a rapid growth in video and now content providers are trying to push content to the user.

Farnam Jahanian, professor and chair of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan, and co-founder of Arbor Networks, said: “The data collected through this study and the trends that have been identified provide important insight for researchers and practitioners into the current direction and nature of internet traffic and usage.

“This will be of great value in informing further research and development efforts into the nature of communications and security technologies that are integral to internet evolution.”