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OT: question re. the Volume of unwanted email (fwd)

  • From: Miles Fidelman
  • Date: Wed Jun 18 10:53:38 2003

Hi Folks,

Someone on the cybertelecom list raised a question about the real costs of
handling spam (see below) in terms of computer resources, transmission,
etc.  This dovetailed a discussion I had recently with several former BBN
colleagues - where someone pointed out that email is not a very high
percentage of total internet traffic, compared to all the multimedia and
video floating around these days.

Since a lot of the arguments about spam hinge on the various costs it
imposes on ISPs, it seems like it would be a good thing to get a handle on
quantitative data.

It occurs to me that a lot of people on this list might have that sort of
quantitative data - so... any comments?


Miles Fidelman

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 09:15:08 -0400
From: Timothy Denton <[email protected]>
Reply-To: Telecom Regulation & the Internet
    <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: Issue: the Volume of unwanted email


I want the advice and knowledge of people on this list. I dared not use the
word spam lest I be filtered out, but the issue is the economic cost of spam
for ISPs.

There has been much to-do about spam of late. Figures from Canarie show that
SMTP transmissions account for about .5% of the volume of Internet traffic.
This may be typical of backbone networks, or not. Commercial networks are
jealous of revealing information of this nature.

ISPs report that spam is now about 46% of email, and that it adds to the
cost of transmissions because of the extra machines that have to be bought
and operated.


What is the economic cost of handling all this spam, in terms of additional
boxes, software, transmission costs etc?

I am aware that spam adds large costs in terms of time and attention at the
user end. Is there evidence of what it adds in terms of hardware and

As we head toward legislative remedies in the US and Canada, I would like to
have a better idea of the economic impact of spam.

Timothy Denton, BA,BCL
37 Heney Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1N 5V6
[email protected]