Due to the increase in high bandwidth applications, some experts are warning the Internet might soon collapse under the demand.
Recently, Cisco Systems, based in San Jose California, and one of the biggest suppliers of Internet backbone equipment, ran some numbers and discovered that,Internet traffic is likely to increase substantially over the next few years. According to GIGAOM, Internet traffic is likely to increase due to such bandwidth hogs as Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, etc. to the point that such services may have to be limited unless new ways can be found to deliver large amounts of data in more efficient ways.
One of those ways might be to shift the way Internet service is billed. As it stands now, customers pay a monthly fee and are then free to download or upload as much stuff as they like; Mung Chiang, associate professor of electrical engineering at Princeton as reported in PhysOrg, suggests that we’re going to have to accept new pricing structures if we are to get through these next few years without experiencing degradation of Internet throughput. He points out that because people tend to watch movies when they’re awake for example, usage during certain hours in different countries varies.
Chiang, has been working with many of the leading Internet service providers such as AT&T, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, SES and Telcordia to figure out a way to manage the Internet as demand increases, and says that some sort of change is inevitable.
In their report, Cisco said it expects traffic on the world’s networks based on earlier numbers, will increase (annually) 46 percent from 2017 to 2022, nearly doubling every two years. They also noted that the current infrastructure is incapable of carrying such a load.
On the other hand, improvements in existing technology and advances that haven’t been dreamed up yet, might actually arrive in time to fix the problem for us.
What it Might Really Mean
If Internet providers switch to pay as you go plans, as has been seen in the cell phone market, it’s likely to lead to customers paying more for services they have grown accustomed to paying a flat fee for, such as watching movies or television shows on demand. Whether this might affect the growth of such services remains to be seen, if so, the problem would be averted if the growth is negative.
Chiang suggests there are other things that can be done to improve throughput as well, but backbone providers will have to be willing to invest in upgrades in both hardware and software. One idea is to change the way data is routed across the Internet. He syas that instead of data winding its way across, the country, ways could be found to segregate areas into hubs that know where everyone is located geographically, and could thus send data straight to customers, removing the backlogs that occur at many of the current steps along the way.
Of course, it almost goes without saying that the infrastructure of certain parts of the Internet would benefit enormously from upgrades to fiber optic cabling. Consider for example bulk of customers that have Comcast, the nation’s largest provider, all get their service via copper cable that is also used to carry television and sometimes phone signals.
At any rate, no matter how you look at it, something has to change, either new advances in transporting data across the Internet in more efficient and faster ways, or we’re all going to have to learn to pay a lot more for the privilege of doing what we want on the Internet, when we want.
- May 15, 2021