TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Paper About Metcalfe's Law

Paper About Metcalfe's Law

Marcus Didius Falco (
Sat, 05 Mar 2005 23:47:45 -0500

From the CyberLaw list

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2005 23:20:58 CST
From: Andrew Odlyzko
Subject: FYI: paper about Metcalfe's Law

Dear Colleagues,

Sorry for the spam, but I thought you might be interested in the
paper described below. Comments are invited.


A refutation of Metcalfe's Law
and a better estimate for the value
of networks and network interconnections

Andrew Odlyzko
Digital Technology Center
University of Minnesota

Benjamin Tilly


Metcalfe's Law states that the value of a communications network is
proportional to the square of the size of the network. It is widely
accepted and frequently cited. However, there are several arguments
that this rule is a significant overestimate. (Therefore Reed's Law
is even more of an overestimate, since it says that the value of a
network grows exponentially, in the mathematical sense, in network
size.) This note presents several quantitative arguments that suggest
the value of a general communication network of size n grows like
n*log(n). This growth rate is faster than the linear growth, of order
n, that, according to Sarnoff's Law, governs the value of a broadcast
network. On the other hand, it is much slower than the quadratic
growth of Metcalfe's Law, and helps explain the failure of the dot-com
and telecom booms, as well as why network interconnection (such as
peering on the Internet) remains a controversial issue.


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