Metcalfe's law is wrong

Bob Briscoe, Andrew Odlyzko, Benjamin Tilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


According to Metcalfe's Law, the value of a communications network is proportional to the square of the number of its users. The law is said to be true for any type of communications network, whether it involves telephones, computers, or users of the World Wide Web. Mathematically, the law is correct. Specifically, Metcalfe is correct that the value of a network grows faster than its size in linear terms. He did not however specify how much faster and this is where the limitation lies. In general, connections are not all used with the same intensity. Thus, assigning equal value to all of them is not justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Spectrum
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006


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