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The Internet

Study Warns of Internet Brownouts By 2010 318

Posted by kdawson
from the told-you-them-pipes-was-too-small dept.
Bergkamp10 writes "Consumer and corporate use of the Internet could overload the current capacity and lead to brown-outs in two years unless backbone providers invest billions of dollars in new infrastructure, according to a new study. A flood of new video and other Web content could overwhelm the Net by 2010 unless backbone providers invest up to US $137 billion in new capacity, more than double what service providers plan to invest, according to the study by Nemertes Research Group. In North America alone, backbone investments of $42 billion to $55 billion will be needed in the next three to five years to keep up with demand, Nemertes said. Quoting from the study: 'Our findings indicate that although core fiber and switching/routing resources will scale nicely to support virtually any conceivable user demand, Internet access infrastructure, specifically in North America, will likely cease to be adequate for supporting demand within the next three to five years.' Internet users will create 161 exabytes of new data this year."
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Study Warns of Internet Brownouts By 2010

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  • yay free market (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hlomas (1010351) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:44PM (#21414937)
    it will take care of itself eventually, demand for bandwidth will increase and money will be poured into infrastructure
    • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Urusai (865560) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:50PM (#21414997)
      I've already warned about this. Nobody will invest in new infrastructure in the US because the investors know the US is facing an epic economic decline, or even collapse, in the near future. We've reached peak bandwidth in the US.
      • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:55PM (#21415031)
        Actually the capacity for the bandwidth is there, if they light the fibre up.

        The article is just FUD.

        • Re:yay free market (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mikael (484) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:38PM (#21415361)
          The fibre is there, but what do you connect it to, if the incumbents are just standing there and keeping the door to the cable rooms locked, and not installing any new equipment?
          • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

            by penix1 (722987) on Monday November 19, 2007 @10:08PM (#21416061) Homepage
            And just what incentive do the providers have to install said hardware? In fact, there is every incentive NOT to invest shit into it and let "teh tubes clog!!!!111!!!" They will scream to Congress as they try to fight the tide of Net Neutrality. That's what I predict they will do. Lord forbid they actually have to invest in anything except marketing overselling what the technology can support.
          • Re:yay free market (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Plaid Phantom (818438) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:29AM (#21417247) Homepage

            Well, call me idealistic, but then we light up the fiber ourselves; start some sort of co-op, I dunno. Span the US with fiber and Wi-Max. Google has to be planning something with all the fiber they own.

            If something like that were to happen, and a 'second internet' spring up independent of the current infrastructure and grow reasonably, then one incumbent will start playing along. After that, they'd start falling like dominoes.

            Of course, I'm being ridiculously optimistic about the chances for success of such a project, not to mention the willingness of a group of people to let go of their own money to do it. There's a high initial cost and it would take a long-term commitment to see real results.

      • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:15PM (#21415209) Homepage Journal
        We can always invade someone and take their bandwidth.
      • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:28PM (#21415283)
        "We've reached peak bandwidth in the US."

        let me guess your applying the same kind of phony logic as "peak oil" advocates use.

        repeat after me everyone - there is no bandwidth crisis. The only thing lacking is the speed of the last mile, there's tons of fibre out there waitng to be lit up.

        • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Interesting)

          by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Monday November 19, 2007 @09:02PM (#21415535) Homepage
          I hate agreeing with a guy who can't understand the simple fact that oil production will peak someday (was I missing obvious sarcasm? If so... sorry), but...

          The doom and gloom Internet bandwidth projections I've read assume that many of us start sharing videos and watch on-demand HD, not cached locally with our service providers, but downloaded at random. That's a bunch of crock. Our ISPs will be quite happy to cache this data locally, easing the burden on the backbone. All we need is a few simple strategies to help enable it. I'm doing my part [sourceforge.net]. We geeks will overcome.
          • Re:yay free market (Score:4, Informative)

            by pete6677 (681676) on Monday November 19, 2007 @10:05PM (#21416023)
            Remember when oil production "peaked" in the 1970's? How many times will we have "peak oil"?
            • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

              by nasch (598556) on Monday November 19, 2007 @10:26PM (#21416197)
              All it takes is once. I'm not saying I know when it's going to happen, but surely everyone here can see that eventually it will no longer be economically worthwhile to extract any more oil. We won't actually run out, but there will be so little left that it's too hard to get out. The only other possibility is that new oil is being created as fast as we're using it, and I've never heard anyone suggest that. So eventually, yes, oil production will stop.
            • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Informative)

              by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Monday November 19, 2007 @10:40PM (#21416339)

              Remember when oil production "peaked" in the 1970's? How many times will we have "peak oil"?
              No, I don't actually. There was an energy crisis starting in the Nixon Administration (I always wondered why Carter is blamed for that), but there was no oil "peak". The energy crisis was based on the Arabian Oil Embargo, which artificially created conditions similar to what is projected for peak oil production. When peak oil production is discussed today, they are talking about all the oil that is produced everywhere.
              • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

                by tie_guy_matt (176397) on Monday November 19, 2007 @10:54PM (#21416437)
                Carter is blamed for it because he actually tried to do something about it instead of just ignoring it. Suggest I wear a sweater and switch to renewable energy? What are you crazy? Why in 20 years I am sure we will think of something else. If we ignore it then the problem goes away for a while and we can pretend it is someone else's problem (it will be someone else's problem -- our kids!)
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Quino (613400)
              "M. King Hubbert first used the theory in 1956 to accurately predict that United States oil production would peak between 1965 and 1970."

              Are you confusing the correct prediction of peak domestic oil production vs. peak world oil production? (Of course, the latter comes later).

              In either case, we won't have long to see how well the prediction scales world-wide.

              You can read more here:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil [wikipedia.org]

              I am not aware of other (presumably false) predictions of when peak oil will occur other t
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by pokerdad (1124121)

              Remember when oil production "peaked" in the 1970's? How many times will we have "peak oil"?

              If you mean how many more time will people predict it - many many more. If you mean how many peaks will there actually be - just one.

              A mathematician whose name escapes me at this point demonstrated decades ago that humans will use up a finite resource on a curve not unlike a bell curve. Of course, countless people want to be able to say they correctly predicted when the peak happenned, though reality is that we probably won't be sure the peak was in fact the peak till five or ten years after it happens.

          • TFA was really hard to read, in one part they made it sound like we might run out of backbone capacity, but most of it sounded like the problem would be in the ISP's network! I'm not sure the article is coherent. I think it was too much cut and paste and not enough editing. But anyways I'm sure if Comcast, AT&T or Verizon told a tier 1 that they wanted another couple OC738's of backbone into their data-centers it would happen PDQ.
          • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mcrbids (148650) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:04AM (#21417571) Journal
            The doom and gloom Internet bandwidth projections I've read assume that many of us start sharing videos and watch on-demand HD, not cached locally with our service providers, but downloaded at random. That's a bunch of crock. Our ISPs will be quite happy to cache this data locally, easing the burden on the backbone.

            You mean, like newsgroups?

            Sorry to burst your bubble, but come on, man! This is NOT A DIFFICULT PROBLEM. It was thoroughly solved well over a decade ago. The only reason we aren't using it more is because of legal considerations. Newsgroups solved the problem of distributing large amounts of content over slow connections and caching the data on an as-needed basis. Your "NetFS" struggles (and fails) to be anywhere near as efficient.

            But if your ISP took the top 50 movies and cached them in a cheap-ass 1U newsgroup server at your neighborhood head-end equipment, the top 500 movies in 4U at your city colo, and the top 50,000 in a nice rack at their datacenter, with one superglobalworldwide archive with everything ever made, they'd have a system that would be incredibly efficient. Build each tier to failover to the one above, and you'd have incredible reliability. Even if the superglobalworldwide data center went down for an afternoon, only maybe 5% of everybody would even notice. And the superglobalworldwide datacenter might only cost a few million. Peanuts!

            See, half of everybody wants the top 10 movies. Half of what's left wants something released within the last year or so. The next 20% or so gets pretty tough to cache, and the last 5% is just impossible - some artsy film from 1948 filmed in southern France.

            With very little expense, your ISP could serve basically every movie ever made.
        • Oh, I thought this was just a stealth ad from some IPv6 vendor:
          "Worl' be fallin' apart an' shi'. Buy our boxen an' dodge the toxin."
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851)
          Yes and no, there is the last mile problem, but there is also the problem of 3/4 of the existing bandwidth being used by spammers and crackers.

          I don't personally support adding capacity to the net, until the other problems that are limiting the usability are dealt with.
      • by Propaganda13 (312548) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:43PM (#21415391)

        I've already warned about this. Nobody will invest in new infrastructure in the US because the investors know the US is facing an epic economic decline, or even collapse, in the near future. We've reached peak bandwidth in the US.

        I've been warning people for years too. That's why I've been stockpiling porn for years. One of these days, we just won't have enough bandwidth then these fools will come crying that they can't get enough porn to get by on. Well, I warned them.
        STOCKPILE PORN NOW!
        • I think I've got a dramatically new insight about the meaning of the name for that book(or site, I don't remember): The Survival Ring.
      • Such things usually balance themselves out. The collapse will cause a reduction in demand because fewer services will be available. A lot of net hog services have yet to turn a consistent profit. Investors will shy away from anything that hasn't a proven profit record.
      • by ockegheim (808089)
        Yes, I shudder to think what Iraq must be costing the US. If you have to have a war, do it well, or lose it relatively quickly, develop an anti-war stance, and become an economic superpower like Germany & Japan.
    • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NickCatal (865805) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:52PM (#21415015)
      The money doesn't even need to be poured into infrastructure anymore. Back in the late 90s they laid so much fiber/conduits that we will be perfectly fine for quite a long time.

      Add on to that the lowering cost of long-range high-speed ethernet and I'm confident that there won't be a problem nearly as fast as people want to make it seem.

      What is really needed here, however, is a wider adoption of multicast and local cache technology. That is going to be very costly to do.
      • by eggoeater (704775)
        You're correct about all the dark fiber out there, but lighting it up won't be cheap... the mega-routers on each end cost six figures easy. It's also worth noting that I don't think the article was talking about the actual backbone infrastructure, but rather what exists between the back bone and the last mile. ie. Verizon can run fiber to everyones' house, but I'm sure their CO doesn't have the connection speed to handle the aggregated bandwidth.
      • by evanbd (210358)

        The routers to use the dark fiber, and the upgraded routers to use in-use fiber better, still count as infrastructure. And they aren't cheap. And we will need them.

        Does that mean the internet is doomed? I doubt it. It's not impossible, but I'd want to see better evidence. Plenty of people have predicted the imminent death of the internet before.

      • OK, Geeks understand a bit about what internet traffic is, but how many youtubers LOL types really understand? All they know is that this an almost infinite amount of internet stuff for not much cost. A bit like paying $20 per month and filling up your car as often as you want. Unlike driving a car, where they have to pay for gas, this internet stuff is intangible and usage is virtually free. Unlike using gas or electricity or roads, there is no tangible throttling mechanism. Hence, more people will continu
        • by gnuman99 (746007)

          This is worse than the tragedy of the commons because at least (most) farmers understand the downside of over-grazing.

          That is not tragedy of the commons. That is common sense. Farm land is not common. It is limited.

          If you want tragedy of the commons, see:
          * fishing (oceans and stock populations and current inaction over it - or action by Japanese to kill more whales to "fix the problem" (no fish, no problem))
          * CO2 and other greenhouse gases
          * Mercury (most mercury

      • Ah... slashdot. Good, well informed technical opinions are here to be read, if you can stand wading through the crud.

        What is really needed here, however, is a wider adoption of multicast and local cache technology. That is going to be very costly to do.

        I couldn't agree more, except for the cost part. Good local caching will come [sourceforge.net], and it will be free. It's my project, and likely therefore total crud, but what the heck... somebody's got to change the world :-)

    • by DrYak (748999)

      and money will be poured into the telecomunication companies' pockets


      Here, fixed it for you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      demand for bandwidth will increase and money will be poured into infrastructure

      Why? Why spend $137 billion to upgrade infrastructure just to keep up, when they could just spend $0, and use the weak infrastructure to justify collecting extra money from google, amazon, itunes, etc.
    • it will take care of itself eventually, demand for bandwidth will increase and money will be poured into infrastructure
      Indeed. Perhaps it will only be the USA that "browns out"? It seems that America is years behind even small obscure European countries, and even some so-called "third world" counties.

      Always remember that competition improves service and reduces cost. Right? Right? So we have no competition, obviously. Comcast may disagree.

      • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 19, 2007 @11:49PM (#21416777) Journal
        Which is, what many seem to be getting close to without hitting the nail on the head, is that no one in the US thinks beyond the short term anymore. Businesses use to be build up their infrastructure when their profits were good. Now all we have is the mega corps who can't see beyond the quarter. This is why I believe the US will eventually end up a second world nation. Everyone else will invest in their highways,electrical,internet,and other infrastructures while the US, which has become a nation of corps which only care about the quarter and "how much profit can we maximize if we didn't spend a dime and layoff everyone but the barest staff?" will just keep falling behind until we are like the USSR in the late 70's, with a huge military that rumbles across roads that have grass growing through the giant breaks in it.


        It is truly sad to see my country fall apart like this. And I don't honestly see any far sighted thinkers left in my country, either in the private or government sectors. Instead we will get rationing until what is left of the Internet infrastructure until it finally breaks down and by then the cost to rebuild will most likely be beyond our means.


        And finally if anyone has doubts to that happening, fell free to come to AR and see our horrible road system and then realize the guy responsible for cutting off funding for every improvement while we maintained record surpluses is now running for president (Mike Huckabee). Just the thought that Huckabee might even have a chance scares me even worse than President Hillary, and I never thought anyone would scare me that bad!

    • Re:yay free market (Score:5, Insightful)

      by h3llfish (663057) on Monday November 19, 2007 @09:51PM (#21415927)
      Yes, just like the free market has done such a great job of caring for the environment! And getting safe toys to our children! And improving the standard of living of the average citizen! And... the list goes on.

      You can't have a free market without free people. All of the competitors in the market must play by the same rules - that's Economics 1, day 1.

      With US and EU workers trying to compete with slave labor, we are doomed to fail. The massive trade deficit, among other factors, has begun to erode our way of life.

      We aren't going to have the money to pay for massive internet infrastructure improvements, thanks to all these "free" markets.

      I'm no commie - I just think that we should only trade with trade partners who play by the same rules that we do. Don't trash the environment and destroy species. Allow dissent and trade unions. Don't allow child labor or 80 hour work weeks. If you can't play by those rules, you shouldn't be invited to the game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blahplusplus (757119)
        "... allowtrade unions. Don't allow child labor or 80 hour work weeks. If you can't play by those rules, you shouldn't be invited to the game."

        Ahh yes but freedom means freedom to break the rules, and to do just anything... and that also means be crook. There is almost no distinction between a theif and a business man these days. Business practices can't be enforced because it would take probably upwards or close to half of the population monitoring the other half, or an orwellian society. We allow peopl
    • You're understimating the appeal of Malthus over the mind of the average man. Malthus and Keynes simply refuse to die, shit! there's still some people who believe that the new deal didn't cause the Big Depression.
  • TCP/IP protocols? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by or-switch (1118153)
    A while back I read about different options for internet communications protocols that were much more efficient than the current protocols. I think the early research showed you could get a HUGE scale-up in data transmission rates using conventional hardware if the protocol was altered. That was several years ago and the same protocols are still being used. Getting a large number of vendors/users/software/etc. to change off of an inefficient protocol for a better one is very difficult, but maybe it's les
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Eliminating spam somehow probably wouldn't solve much. How many spam e-mails do you get per day? Let's be generous and say that on average you get 1000 spam e-mails per day. How many minutes of video on average (per day) are watched by internet users? I don't have any exact numbers, but I know some people who watch hours of video per day, but the majority of people do not watch any. Let's settle on 3 minutes. Factor in websites, video gaming, VOIP, business VPN, FTP, everything else... 1000 e-mails eq
  • Then why do i get yelled at if i use my puny 10 mb download that my ISP advertises?
    • Because you're overloading the 10 Base-T hub they're using to provide access to you and everyone else! The collisions! Oh the humanity!
  • by Sowelu (713889) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:49PM (#21414985)
    I don't know if I'm trolling or joking or what, but I'm in the unfortunate position of saying: If people start seeing brownouts because there's too much video on the 'net, I'll happily switch to a service that throttles the heck out of your content as long as I can still use my low-bandwidth telnet stuff. Does that mean I'm supporting or opposing network neutrality? I don't even know anymore.
    • by peragrin (659227)
      ah you don't understand network neutraility. the traffic that gets throttled would not only be non(comcast/time warner/ISP) traffic including your telnet so they can increase the bandwidth to thier video service from which they will charge extra fees. including only windows DRM.(see BBC's iPlayer)
    • by WK2 (1072560) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:14PM (#21415205) Homepage

      Does that mean I'm supporting or opposing network neutrality?

      Neither. You support QOS. QOS is throttling based on protocol/bandwidth/latency needs. Neutrality is under attack when ISP's throttle or block based on content/source. Sometimes the line between QOS and Neutrality is blurry, but your example is clearly QOS.

      • by homer_ca (144738) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:33PM (#21415329)
        Correct. An example of QOS would be prioritizing all VoIP packets. Non-net-neutrality would be prioritizing the packets of the ISP's own VoIP service and degrading a competitor's VoIP traffic (say to Vonage). This article sounds like more fear mongering to promote a tiered Internet, i.e. non-neutral Internet.
    • by evanbd (210358)
      As long as it's very clear to the customers what will or won't be throttled, and there exist options that treat all traffic equally, and things are priced competitively, I'm fine with throttled options existing. If it's cheaper to serve people throttled connections, and some people would rather pay for that, then by all means, serve those connections. If we start running into a bandwidth crunch, prices *should* go up as the basic form of rationing. I'll figure out what type of connection I want when I ge
    • Can't we just throttle the spammers?
    • Does that mean I'm supporting or opposing network neutrality? I don't even know anymore.

      There is a decent solution that doesn't violate network neutrality: an ISP could simply give each customer a data quota*, and if they exceed it, they get their bandwidth reduced.** That's a good way of reducing bittorrent and video traffic without explicitly targeting bittorrent or video.

      * If this is implemented the right way, the customer should know what their [monthly|weekly|daily] quota is when they sign up for

  • 1. For Net users in the Americas and Europe, it would be fairly easy to establish bridge portals to not include Africa and Asia and solve the whole problem.

    2. For Net users beyond the Americas and Europe, going to IPv6 would solve this problem - and installing throttle content managers to bridge the gap.

    3. Just because you can link all devices to the Net, doesn't mean you have to.
    • Just because you can link all devices to the Net, doesn't mean you have to.

      Tell that to my washing machine and toaster. They'll get lonely when I'm away and will want someone to talk too. So when they send you an IM, please be nice and respond back ok? And while your at it, think of the potentially billions of devices that get lonely too!

      Please, don't snuff them out with IP4. Give them a voice by supporting IP6!

      Oh ya, almost forgot... Next time you hear from that chrome covered slotted bitch, tell it not to
    • by loftwyr (36717)
      3-2. Place more infrastructure in Europe and elsewhere that bypasses North America. It's only the US bottleneck [isoc.org] that's going to be a problem.
  • To help decrease usage, we should implement a licensing system to own and operate a PC. You would be put through two or three week long course that explains the basic functionality of the machine, as well as how to protect yourself while online (from viruses, not sexual predators!). Registration fees would mostly go toward the nationalized (though publicly run) servers and broadband-for-all initiative.
  • by Starteck81 (917280) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:55PM (#21415023)
    ... your local monopoly telco. I wouldn't be surprised if Verizon, AA&T and their ilk paid for this study so they could go cry to congress about needing more subsidies so the internet doesn't "brownout".
  • by urinetrouble (809485) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:56PM (#21415043)
    http://mr.caltech.edu/media/Press_Releases/PR12356.html [caltech.edu]

    From an article in discover magazine: [discovermagazine.com]

    John Doyle is worried about the Internet. In the next few years, millions more people will gain access to it, and existing users will place ever higher demands on our digital infrastructure, driven by applications like online movie services and Internet telephony. Doyle predicts that this skyrocketing traffic could cause the Internet to slow to a disastrous crawl, an endless digital gridlock stifling our economies. But Doyle, a professor of control and dynamic systems, electrical engineering, and bioengineering at Caltech, also believes the Internet can be saved. He and his colleagues have created a theory that has revealed some simple yet powerful ways to accelerate the flow of information. Vastly accelerate the flow: Doyle and his colleagues can now blast the entire text of all the books in the library of Congress across the United States in 15 minutes.

    I haven't actually read the whole article in a while but from what it seems, this guy has a pretty good solution to this whole problem that I don't see discussed a lot.
    • by evanbd (210358)
      One thing that few of these sorts of plans fail to discuss: is it actually cheaper? I really don't care whether the internet operates at 50% efficiency, 90% efficiency, or 20% efficiency -- all I care about is what the cheapest way to move a given number of bits is. If that's to build excess capacity, and run simple software on simple but fast routers, and only utilize the raw bandwidth at 50%, that's fine by me if it costs less than building the same network at 100% usage and half the raw bandwidth. It'
  • It's not necessarily the raw Internet capacity that has to increase. New video and audio compression algorithms could dramatically reduce the bandwidth necessary for carrying the same. Protocols like BitTorrent naturally transfer most of the data through currently uncongested connections. Development and even implementation of such standards does not necessarily cost billions of dollars.

    Now it's granted that we'll probably come up with some new and creative ways to use up the bandwidth such as realtime 3D v
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:58PM (#21415061)
    The most glaring one I can remember was on the morning of September 11, 2001, but its not the only one that has occurred, and undoubtedly won't be the last. Also, the same thing happens with any other limited communications service (POTS systems can be -- and have been -- overloaded during major events!), and with (and where we get the name) electrical grids.

    So, yeah, by 2010, internet brownouts "might" happen. They already do happen. And we all survive.

    Aside from pushing a meaningles scary buzzword ("exaflood"), this is an unsurprising study by a largely telecom-industry-funded lobbying group favoring tiered internet services and other telecom-friendly policy that, surprise of surprises, finds that with the current, mostly-neutral internet, the whole system is about to collapse, and it will be used to sell the idea that we have to abandon that model, let telecoms charge additional fees to get data delivered even though they already charge each end for every byte transferred, etc.

    • by Dunbal (464142)
      The most glaring one I can remember was on the morning of September 11, 2001,

            Heh, there was an internet brown out? Good thing I missed it. Or considering the fact that I watched the world trade center fall from a bed in intensive care, maybe not.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday November 19, 2007 @07:58PM (#21415065)
    Bet you 10 slashbucks if you do some research behind where this study came from, it is companies who claim to have the fix for this.

    I highly doubt the Internet is headed for a meltdown because, funny thing, as usage grows so does available bandwidth. Turns out that we can activate more fibre connections, we can upgrade to new, faster technologies, etc. I'm quite sure the Internet of 1997 would have ground to a near total halt were it subjected to today's traffic. However turns out we aren't dealing with that Internet, ours is faster, better.

    I also hate when people throw out bullshit numbers of how much something will cost to fix. Ok well that might be impressive assuming we weren't spending anything now. But we are. Companies are investing in new infrastructure all the time (I know we are where I work). If it is insufficient, ok, but let's not pretend that there is no development going on and all of a sudden we have to find a big wodge of cash.

    If it comes down to it, and there's more demand than supply and supply is too expensive to grow based on current pricing know what happens? No not a melt down, but that magic shit you learned back in Econ 200: Prices will rise such that demand will match supply. Of course those rising prices will give more money to upgrade supply and so on.

    In reality I imagine things will go just fine. As far as I can tell bandwidth is getting cheaper at the high end, and supply is mostly limited by demand. As there's more demand for it, the infrastructure necessary for it will be purchased.
    • Bet you 10 slashbucks if you do some research behind where this study came from, it is companies who claim to have the fix for this.


      Its from an lobbying group whose pushing a tiered internet and other telecom-friendly government policy as the solution; so its not the "we have a product that is a solution" type of thing, but essentially the political equivalent.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      I highly doubt the Internet is headed for a meltdown because, funny thing, as usage grows so does available bandwidth

            I agree. I think it was only a couple weeks ago that there was a story on here about some Australian figuring out how to get a 100 to 200 TIMES faster throughput on an ADSL line. I'm too lazy to dig it up. But "Necessity is the mother of Invention" applies to the intertubes, too.
  • by mbone (558574) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:00PM (#21415087)
    I must admit, my BS detector went off when I heard of this study. In my experience. the Internet backbones tend to be in the best shape, even in the US, and the most straightforward to extend. Our troubles tend to be on the edge.

    While, I cannot find any real problems in a quick read, people should look at FIGURE 7: GLOBAL INCREMENTAL OPTICAL INVESTMENT, where the investment peaks in 2008 after exponential growth in both spending, capacity and use. It is not too surprising that a couple of years of exponential growth in usage later, and with flat spending, they predict problems. The real question to me is, how realistic is that that investment will peak next year ? I must admit that this sounds dubious to me.

    • by ppanon (16583)
      One way to look at that paper is that it's blackmail from the telco's that funded this story. Give us what we want in a legal framework, or we stop developing the infrastructure and let growth in demand overrun capacity. That's capitaloterrorism®.

      On the other hand, the telcos may have overbuilt capacity so much for a while that the excess capacity drove down prices to the point where they couldn't recoup their investment. What happened is that they countered that by severely oversubscribing backbone ban
  • by niola (74324) <jon@niola.net> on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:05PM (#21415127) Homepage
    Some of the points made in this report seem to eerily echo the talking points of the big comm companies against neutrality, and for allowing them to tier pricing.

    If you recall they said in the past that video is using up a substantial percentage of the bandwidth and that unless they can charge the big users more (ie Google, Youtube, etc) that they won't be able to upgrade the infrastructure to keep up.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      They should be careful, because some of the "big users" you cited will soon be able to afford to buy some of these "telcos".
  • that in the future, all problems will be solved by the people of the future!

  • by jjohnson (62583) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:11PM (#21415177) Homepage
    The collapse of the infrastructure is like the end of Moore's Law--always a couple years over the horizon.

    As a general practice, I ignore any news story that relies upon "could", "may", "might" or "possibly" in its central premise. It always means that another lazy journalist is being willingly spoonfed a story by a PR flack.
    • "Imminent Death of the Net" has been a joke since the 80's: "it'll take more than a day to transfer a day's worth of USENET with 1200 bps modems!", then 2400 baud modems came out, etc. The more things change, the more they stay the same... Fortunately, data transmission is a highly parallelizable operation, and if people want to pay for it, they'll get it...
  • by Unlikely_Hero (900172) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:11PM (#21415183)
    Well telcos, I guess you have to upgrade the network now like you promised for the tax cuts clinton gave you between 1996 and 2000! What was it? 200 billion?

    This is the telcos fault, screw them.
  • by oliphaunt (124016) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:32PM (#21415325) Homepage
    US $137 billion. how much is that in hard currency, like 500 Euros?
  • Who do I think has the stock pile of unused bandwidth capabilities and the funds / know-how on coming up with some alternative last-mile options? My end of year 2007 prediction: Google comes out with a flying blimp last mile wireless option. They may even be in line to have a chunk of the wireless spectrum, who knows? :) Currently I'm paying $55 for a wireless 10Mbit (synchronous) option that runs in the 5Ghz range (and yes, +900K/sec is the norm). What if Google comes along and can offer $80 45Mbit capabi
  • by viking80 (697716) on Monday November 19, 2007 @08:53PM (#21415467) Journal
    I am sure there is a lot of poor equipment that needs to be upgraded, but otherwise this sounds more like ISP crying that they need more revenue.

    Backbone fiber: the fiber cables contain 768 non-dispersion shifted cable. This, and the last mile, is the big and expensive part of the network. Each of these fibers can, with end equipment upgrade, carry at least 10Gb * 135 colors = 1.35Tb, so the cable carries 1Eb/s.
    Now, an x264 encoded HD video is 50mb/s, so this cable will carry 20 million HD channels.
    (So one cable covers northern california. There are at least three)

    A 40GB edge router can support about 1k users, and costs $10k. Thats $100/user. Estimate the same cost /Mb for the core. Factoring 5 year lifetime on equipment you end up with $4/user/month for 50Mb/s.

    My house is already connected with fiber(GB Ethernet choked down to a few Mb/s) , and you can probably (soon) get 50Mb/s over DSL, so the last mile cost is at least incremental, and probably similar to the above estimate of $4, so the urban part of us should get it for $8 + ISP profit and administrative cost.

    So $10/month for 50Mb/s should be the cost to support this upgrade.
  • Well that's seemed pretty obvious browsing various sites and using various services because....

    oo, hang on actually, I was about to say they all seem so slow, oversubscribed, but these days you have to flip a coin to try and decide if a site or service is flooded out, or you're just being crippled by your own ISP.

    Either way things really aren't looking too good are they.
  • this seems a bit steep! With 6 billion people in the world, this is >25 GB for every man, woman and child on the planet. Per year! I doubt the average is even close to that.

  • Did anyone else blink an eye at TFA's estimate of how much data CREATED this year? From TFA:

    Internet users will create 161 exabytes of new data this year, and this exaflood is a positive development for Internet users and businesses, IIA says. An exabyte is 1 quintillion bytes or about 1.1 billion gigabytes. One exabyte is the equivalent of about 50,000 years of DVD quality video.

    So, 70.5E9 Hours of video? So, 1 billion people each created 70.5 hours of video worth of data? That's pretty impressive

  • Much of the issue is likely invented by operators who want to own more of the pie and feel little responsibility to reducing their ROI by switching dark fiber on. Also the term "brownout" is cute since obviously there is no such thing, you get collisions and throttling but the routers don't explode usually.

    However I am curious about how much bandwidth is eaten by:
    - Spam
    - Advertising
    - Zombie communications and DDoS

    Also, bandwidth availability, congestion and capacity need to be examined with respect to net s
  • If I remember correctly, companies like MCI Worldcom, Qwest, AT&T, et al. spent massive amounts of money building up the infrastructure, laying fiber optic cables everywhere they could because they believed there would be a demand for it. But it never materialized. So there should be more than enough capacity to handle future demands.
  • According to TFA:

    Our findings indicate that although core fiber and switching/routing resources will scale nicely to support virtually any conceivable user demand, Internet access infrastructure, specifically in North America, will likely cease to be adequate for supporting demand within the next three to five years.

    Lets say I continue to place the same demands on my dial-up line in 2010 that I do today. That gets me onto the 'core' and it should continue to do so.

    Meanwhile, the kid next door gets ever

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Monday November 19, 2007 @10:43PM (#21416367) Homepage Journal
    I worked for Cisco Systems in the late 90's and through the dot-com bust. Starting in 1995, there was a MASSIVE undertaking to lay out fiber across the nation and throughout the world. When they pulled fiber, they didn't just pull one strand. Fiber is cheap, it is the manual labor that is incredibly expensive to bury the cables and hook them up, certify them, etc. When they buried the cables, they ran 128 pair, 256 pair. TO THIS DAY, we have MORE DARK FIBER than we have lit fiber. There is enough fiber spanning this planet to support a quintupling of bandwidth and we'll STILL have dark fiber to spare.

    Why are they 'warning' of impending bandwidth crisis? It's pretty simple.

    I was just at a customer site last week (a city government). They had a DS3 and were going to get a second one. I asked him why on earth he was getting a DS3 which is OLD telco technology. I went up to his demarc point and showed him that Qwest had a fiber cable coming into their facility that provided 100mb to the net, that they then fed into a Fujitsu FL4100, then passed it off to a DS3 mux and passed off to the customer as a copper coax connection. They had a wall filled with equipment JUST TO SLOW DOWN THE CONNECTION to a DS3 speed. Oh, and the City was paying for the electricity for all the telco equipment.

    I told him to call up Qwest and tell them to come get their crap out of his server room, take the fiber and plug it directly into his switch. And he was only going to pay $2000 a month for the 100mb connection to the internet or else good luck ever getting a permit to dig up another sidewalk in this town.

    It worked. He didn't even have to resort to the threats. Qwest knows that they NEED TO CREATE A PROBLEM IN ORDER TO CHARGE FOR THE SOLUTION. In 100% of the cases I've dealt with telco's, I've told them what the speed and feed was that I wanted, and what I was going to pay for it. Never have I had an issue. Now, I do live in the Twin Cities Metro Area, where there is plenty of bandwidth to go around, and I'm not demanding that they give me priority QoS all the way to their tier 1 core backbone, but this game they're playing is ridiculous.

    Another customer was paying $12,000 per month to get a 200mb connection to the net. I got on the horn with Qwest and told them to give us a gig connection for $10,000 per month or they can come get their gear because we weren't going to pay for the electricity for them any more. They gave us a gig connection.

    It costs $100 to provision a 10mb connection port. Heck fiber optic modules are CHEAP. Want to know how much it costs to reconfigure that link for 100mb? Same Price. It is also the same price to bring it up to a gig connection.

    They will bring in equipment for the sake of bringing in equipment, they will spend tens of thousands of dollars in gear just to slow your connection down, just so they can charge to speed it up.

    Don't fall for it.

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