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Internet gridlock by 2010

07 May, 2008
By Allison Orr

According to Jim Cicconi from AT&T and reported in ZDNet news, without investment, the Internet’s current network architecture will reach the limits of its capacity in just two years.  The strain on the network, says Cicconi speaking at a Web 2.0 eForum in London last week, is coming from the increasing amounts of video and user-generated content being uploaded.  He argues that in three years’ time, "20 typical households will generate more traffic than the entire Internet today".

He believes that at least US$130 billion will need to be spent on new infrastructure to improve the network worldwide, pointing out that the Internet doesn’t exist due to an "act of God but upgraded and maintained by private investors".

This claim is similar to the results of a study done late last year by Nemertes Research that found that user demand could outpace network capacity on the Internet by 2010.  The Nemertes study also recommended $137 billion in global infrastructure investment.  The findings indicate that by this date, users could encounter Internet "brownouts" or interruptions to applications.  The days of waiting for downloads may return.

The study argues that the overall disadvantage of this development may be to slow down innovation.  Insufficient infrastructure may discourage companies from putting out the next Google or YouTube.

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