T Nation

Internet Running Out of Bandwidth?


Beware surfers: cyberspace is filling up

Internet users face regular ?brownouts? that will freeze their computers as capacity runs out in cyberspace, according to research to be published later this year.

Experts predict that consumer demand, already growing at 60 per cent a year, will start to exceed supply from as early as next year because of more people working online and the soaring popularity of bandwidth-hungry websites such as YouTube and services such as the BBC?s iPlayer.

It will initially lead to computers being disrupted and going offline for several minutes at a time. From 2012, however, PCs and laptops are likely to operate at a much reduced speed, rendering the internet an ?unreliable toy?.

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist, wrote the code that transformed a private computer network into the world wide web in 1989, the internet appeared to be a limitless resource. However, a report being compiled by Nemertes Research, a respected American think-tank, will warn that the web has reached a critical point and that even the recession has failed to stave off impending problems.

With more people working or looking for work from home, or using their PCs more for cheap entertainment, demand could double in 2009,? said Ted Ritter, a Nemertes analyst. ?At best, we see the [economic] slowdown delaying the fractures for maybe a year.?

In America, telecoms companies are spending £40 billion a year upgrading cables and supercomputers to increase capacity, while in Britain proposals to replace copper cabling across part of the network with fibreoptic wires would cost at least £5 billion.

Yet sites such as YouTube, the video-sharing service launched in 2005, which has exploded in popularity, can throw the most ambitious plans into disarray.

The amount of traffic generated each month by YouTube is now equivalent to the amount of traffic generated across the entire internet in all of 2000.

The extent of its popularity is indicated by the 100 million people who have logged on to the site to see the talent show contestant Susan Boyle in the past three weeks.

Another so-called ?net bomb? being studied by Nemertes is BBC iPlayer, which allows viewers to watch high-definition television on their computers. In February there were more than 35 million requests for shows and iPlayer now accounts for 5 per cent of all UK internet traffic.

Analysts express such traffic in exabytes ? a quintillion (or a million trillion) bytes or units of computer data. One exabyte is equivalent to 50,000 years? worth of DVD-quality data.

Monthly traffic across the internet is running at about eight exabytes. A recent study by the University of Minnesota estimated that traffic was growing by at least 60 per cent a year, although that did not take into account plans for greater internet access in China and India.

While the net itself will ultimately survive, Ritter said that waves of disruption would begin to emerge next year, when computers would jitter and freeze. This would be followed by ?brownouts? ? a combination of temporary freezing and computers being reduced to a slow speed.

Ritter?s report will warn that an unreliable internet is merely a toy. ?For business purposes, such as delivering medical records between hospitals in real time, it?s useless,? he said.

?Today people know how home computers slow down when the kids get back from school and start playing games, but by 2012 that traffic jam could last all day long.?

Engineers are already preparing for the worst. While some are planning a lightning-fast parallel network called ?the grid?, others are building ?caches?, private computer stations where popular entertainments are stored on local PCs rather than sent through the global backbone.

Telephone companies want to recoup escalating costs by increasing prices for ?net hogs? who use more than their share of capacity.




I have a hard time believing this though. Also, saying computers will run slow is wrong, it's the connections that will be reduced is anything.

Parallel networks and such seem to be a good solution from the sounds of things.


I think that's partly true, but if you read it closely, it's really nothing more than a press release by some telecoms for why they want to charge per use. Which is what the last paragraph is about. I wonder if he'll do a followup report on how the suffering telecoms need to charge more.

The reporter probably just took the release mailed to him and put his name on it.

I haven't decided whether I support it or not. I usually fall on the side of letting people and businesses do whatever they want. But it's hard when it involves infrastructure since there's less competition. But well who knows maybe something new would get invented. I don't know.


I better download all the internets porn today then!


The internet has not forsaken you, NAY, you have forsaken the internet!

We must all stop using the internet and hope that it shall forgive us, yay!

Only surf for porn twice per day, max.


South park


How the hell do you upload an image? I selected "Choose File", found it, hit open then submit. And.... nothing.


2012 really is the end of the world



Damn, The internet has been wicked slow today also. Friggin you jinxed it with this thread.



I think they are just looking for excuses to charge by the Gigabyte. And possibly for the government to destroy net neutrality.



I blame Makavali and his post-whoring.



The main problem is that we're still running on a 10G backbone. Up that to a 100 or a 1T and we should be good to go for a while.


Me too. What a cunt.


Bull effing crap.

While the last mile is still an issue, the backbones are not. There is PLENTY of bandwidth and while we can't seem to get it to our houses fast enough, the backbones are solid. What we need is fiber to your house or wimax.

The whole reason for these studies and reports is so that cable companies and media delivery companies can try to justify the big money grab of metered billing.

Also, with all the internet video services both free(hulu, youtube) and pay(netflix), it threatens their old business model of cable TV and pay per view. THAT'S what this is all about.


I think you`re on to something here...


This article is ridiculous.

"While the net itself will ultimately survive, Ritter said that waves of disruption would begin to emerge next year, when computers would jitter and freeze. This would be followed by ?brownouts? ? a combination of temporary freezing and computers being reduced to a slow speed. "

This reporter doesn't know WTF they are talking about.


It's probably bull, but in all honesty, except for this web site and netflix, I wouldn't give a crap if the internet was inoperable or not.


2012 this is bogus. Some fix to this problem will most likely be developed by that time If not, the use of the internet would surely drop. I personally wouldn't sit there waiting 15 minutes for a youtube video to load, id go the fuck outside.