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Video Usage Creates Traffic Jam Worries 257

An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet has an article talking about worries over the increase in video downloads in the last year. Free video hosting and the popularity of iTunes is blamed for this phenomenon." From the article: "This is far from an academic issue. Whether the new companies can deliver on their promises could have a profound effect on how the Internet operates--and it could hit consumers in the pocketbook. Business and entertainment content worth billions of dollars now flows over ordinary ISP networks. Internet voice calls, which can be garbled by any network congestion, are increasingly common. Serious online hiccups could be as irritating, and potentially economically damaging, as persistent L.A. traffic jams."
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Video Usage Creates Traffic Jam Worries

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  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:07PM (#14785150) Homepage Journal
    Remember when dialup and fax transmissions completely destroyed the telephone network?
  • by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:08PM (#14785168) Homepage

    This sounds little more than the usual doomsday stuff. In the US there is plenty of unused fiber that covers the entire country. Even companies like Google are interested in tapping this resource. This isn't so much a problem as it is an opportunity for a company to fullfill the demand. []

  • by SparkEE ( 954461 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:09PM (#14785173)
    This is simply the way technology works. From the begginning the web has been needing speed upgrades because of its content. And once the speed catches up to support the newest content, the content evolves and requires greater speed. Why worry about this natural process of innovation. If content is limited out of bandwidth concerns, then bandwidth won't improve.
  • by GoodOmens ( 904827 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:09PM (#14785175) Homepage
    This just adds ammo to ISP's push for tiered internet. Scarry ....
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:09PM (#14785184)
    ISPs are not concerned with traffic "jams". They are concerned with their overselling of bandwidth and people beginning to actually use broadband the way it was intended to be used -- not to replace dialup for speedier POP e-mail and a couple of websites.
  • I have to wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Recovering Hater ( 833107 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:10PM (#14785192)
    Is this just another "The Internet Sky is going to FALL!" episode? Any excuse to charge another buck for bandwidth on the presumption that things are gonna get really bad if they don't.
  • Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:10PM (#14785194) Homepage Journal
    Internet voice calls, which can be garbled by any network congestion, are increasingly common

    And this is exactally why I do not subscribe to the VOIP bandwagon yet. ComCast's service is so hit-or-miss sometimes, I can't trust a phone service on it. Hell, I can't even trust an uninterrupted game of Q2 deathmatch. Mind you, this isn't exclusive to ComCast. It's a trend propogating through all broadband ISPs as they meet a level they can't serve.
  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy&tpno-co,org> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:10PM (#14785197) Homepage
    Did anybody else read this and immediately check to see if zdnet is owned by AT&T?

    Maybe I'm paraniod, but it's a perfectly healthy attitude to have in this country.
  • by narrowhouse ( 1949 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:12PM (#14785226) Homepage
    Expect a lot of stories that logically lead to a tiered Internet in the next few months. First there were stories about the telecom companies considering tiers. Now there will be stories about how the current internet structure is threatened by certain applications that require high bandwidth. Then the excuse will be that they HAD to go to tiered service because the infrastructure just couldn't handle the strain without causing riots, plaugues and famine.
  • by lopingrhondo ( 186235 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:13PM (#14785234) Homepage
    Absolutely. This reads like a press release from the AT&T Verizon duopoly. More FUD that's going to circulate in the news in the coming months in order to convince people that tiered internet laws are necessary.
  • Quality of Service (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jon Luckey ( 7563 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:14PM (#14785240)
    Wow, its almost as if the ISPs were trying to say that people would have to pay more if they wanted thier packets routed with a high standard for delivery time. Where have I heard that recently? []
  • Get more bandwidth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:14PM (#14785246) Homepage Journal
    The other day I overheard a fellow at a local game store chatting with a cop about getting better speeds on BitTorrent(!). (Disclaimer: Always remember that there *are* legal uses for BitTorrent.) At this point, BitTorrent and other P2P downloads have become so widespread that they are using a significant fraction of the Internet's resources. I don't see how adding more legal video downloads is going to create a traffic jam above and beyond what we already have. In fact, it's quite likely that many of the legal downloads will replace either illegal or amature-produced downloads. Thus the net effect, IMHO, would be undoubtedly far less than expected.

    If service providers feel they actually have a reason to be concerned about the matter, then they should see it as an opportunity to sell more server class bandwidth to customers. Assuming they're not undercutting themselves (???), they should be able to use the sales to increase their bandwidth infrastructure to meet the needs.

    Honestly, I think the question is, who is raising the concerns in the article and why? The answer seems to be, "the service providers" and "so they can sell the idea of tiered service". Will they just get over it? No one is buying the tiered service idea.
  • by tibike77 ( 611880 ) <tibikegamez@yahoo. c o m> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:14PM (#14785250) Journal
    Well, let's see...

    If Application X (games mostly) was too much for your system, what did you do ?
    Try to improve on the application engine, request code rewrites and wait for patches ?

    If you knew NY traffic was going to be awfull, do buy a faster car ?
    NOPE. Actually, you could SELL the car.
    And you will use the subway, or in case you can't, get a cab.
    Or, if you're the mayor, put a huge "car usage price" and get the freaking streets empty (and the city rich) at the same time.

    So... is your ISP (you being a big company) having problems with your traffic ?
    Well... get a better "pipe" plan, or switch ISPs.

    AS LONG AS YOU ASK FOR MORE BANDWIDTH, and you do it for "long term", somebody, somewhere is going to be more than happy to provide it for you.
    So the answer is not "limit usage", but "build better roads".
  • by Captain Perspicuous ( 899892 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:21PM (#14785313)
    How about if the major ISPs finally get their act together and allow Multicast [] on their networks? For podcasts and videopodcasts with thousands subscribers, this would cut bandwith costs by huge factors.
  • by TheCoders ( 955280 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:21PM (#14785317) Homepage
    The Future Of The Internet (TM) is going to be varying levels of service depending on how much you (and/or the content providers) want to pay. The specs are mostly there for providing multi-tiered Quality of Service (QOS), but the implementation is still some years away. As we know, there is also some controversy involved here.

    As an example, if a given company (can anyone say "Google"?) wanted to provide VoIP telephone service with a guaranteed, deterministic, bit-rate allocated to each connection, they would sign a contract with a particular ISP and pay certain licensing fees and so on. The controversy arises because we could reach a point where a large chunk of bandwidth is dedicated to these paid-for streams, and the rest of the world is left with a best-effort attempt at whatever's left over. This would of course leave the smaller companies out in the cold. If pays the premium to provided guaranteed QOS for it's streaming audio, and another, smaller site does not, well, guess who's video is going to look better?

    At the moment, there is still a lot of dark fiber and unused bandwidth in the backbone, such that the real bottlenecks, if any, are in the last mile to the house, so it's not an issue. Yet. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out, but it's not hard to envision a future where the days of all internet sites being equal are long gone.
  • by Tominva1045 ( 587712 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:22PM (#14785325)

    Most big ISPs (comcast, verizon, etc.) charge a typical flat rate for monthly service. So Bobby checking his email pays the same as Grandma downloading those high-quality Frank Sinatra mpegs.

    But maybe there's another way to do this- monthly fees based upon data transfer. I pay it now as the host, but maybe the consumer should pay some metered/scaled/tiered rate?

    It's easy enough to compute transfer rates per account (they do this now in a limited way so they can send warnings to people consuming too much bandwidth) and the ISPs would relaize more revenue (so their stock holders would like it).

    Finally, the companies could make many confusing, multi-tierd plans and market the bejesus out of them like the cell phone companies do. Whoa.. think I just hit the ugly part...
  • by tpgp ( 48001 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:23PM (#14785329) Homepage
    Yep, and right in the article summary there's a clue that it's complete horsecrap.
    ....Free video hosting and the popularity of iTunes is blamed for this phenomenon.....
    Do they really expect us to believe that video's from free video hosting accounts for more video traffic then bittorrent?

    And itunes for Gods sake! What the hell? Do vod-casts (or whatever the sheep call them) really account for a significant amount of traffic? I doubt it.
  • Astroturf (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:32PM (#14785435) Homepage Journal
    When you read Borland's article, keep in mind that his argument about video streaming creating unfair expenses for ISPs, without compensating them as much as the content providers, is the reason that telcos like AT&T and Verizon are demanding different charges for accessing competitors like Google. The telcos want a "2-tier Internet", with more expensive "premium" fees for fast, reliable access to content competitors like Google and Time Warner, just as the telcos start competing with them with their own video streams. But Borland doesn't mention that aspect of his argument, even though it's hot news.
  • Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:40PM (#14785522) Journal
    Exactly. Consumers actually becoming empowered is the biggest fear that corporations and our government has. Witness the debates on Bloggers rights, P2P trading and communication, etc. It's all about keeping the consumer marginalized and making sure they A) don't post information your trying to hide, *cough* Bu$h *cough*, and B)they don't develop alternative means of developing entertainment and communication that circumvent traditional Media monopolies.

    It's all about control, and the fear of losing it.
  • by Ludedude ( 948645 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:46PM (#14785566)
    I'm reserving judgement until the "Bandwidth shortage crisis threatens homeland security" headline airs on Fox "News".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2006 @01:08PM (#14785768)
    To see this, you have to look at why the congestion is happening. Do you think that at the front of every traffic jam is some guy driving 5mph for the hell of it?

    From my own experience around several cities, roughly 25% of all congestion comes from the fact that the exits are too narrow. When you build out your freeway to 10 lanes, and your exits are one lane each, you're going to have complete standstills when three lanes of cars try to cram their way into that exit. Once one lane stops, people will use the next lane over, drive up to the exit, then simply halt traffic while waiting for some kind soul to let them in. Once that lane has backed up, the next lane over repeats the same process, thanks to the number of kindergarten dropouts out there who failed to learn how to wait in line. This of course doesn't count the number of idiots who wouldn't recognize a street sign if it smacked them in the face, who slam on their brakes in the left lane 10 feet from the exit, and force their way through traffic to get off, sometimes blocking several lanes at a time. (I've seen some full sized extended cab pickups pulling this maneuver off while blocking three at a time, turned completely perpendicular to the freeway.)

    Another 5% goes to exits that are wide enough but too close to a stoplight once you've gotten off. I drive past one of these every evening on my way home from work, and traffic backs up from the stoplight, onto the freeway, and up past the previous entrance preventing people from getting on the freeway.

    Entrace ramps have their share of problems too. It's difficult to enter a freeway at full speed, moreso when you have to fight your way through stopped traffic (like in the case above) to pull onto the freeway at 0 MPH. The number of entrance ramps placed just before exit ramps is mindboggling. People getting on have to fight the people getting off, leading to slowdowns.

    Another cause of congestion on freeways is the complete and utter lack of enforcement on the minimum speed limit (assuming there is one on the freeway where you are). Not just the guy out for aa very leisurely drive, but also overloaded dump trucks who couldn't go 45 unless they were falling off the side of a mountain and people with junkers that would probably burst into flame if they tried. Nearly all freeways have frontage/service roads with speed limits (that I've seen personally) ranging from 35-50, where these slowpokes could drive to their fullest potential without causing grief to those of us who drive vehicles that have not been likewise crippled. "Slow traffic keep right"... and the rightmost lanes are the ones on the frontage road. This can be helped with more lanes, but when these slowpokes drive in a center or even left lane, it causes a considerable amount of confusion and slowdowns (especially in the lanes around the car, as people who pull up behind the car tend to instinctively slow down before attempting to change lanes).

    The rest are accidents, emergency vehicles, and just slowdowns for the hell of it, where you get to the other end and theres no sign of any reason to have been driving slow all this time. The only thing that will fix the first two would be to breed the desire to gawk at flashing lights and mangled cars out of the human race, while the latter needs more investigation into the actual cause.
  • by Winterblink ( 575267 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @02:07PM (#14786334) Homepage
    Customers using the service as it was advertised to them? Yeah, I could see how that would get folks shaking in their boots. So for years we've been paying for a "rich broadband experience", and now that we actually can get it, they go "oh frack, our nice comfy profit margins!!"?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @03:03PM (#14786807) Homepage
    This reads like a planted story, intended to build public support for the "tiered Internet" concept that Verizon and other incumbent carriers have been pushing.

    Then there's a plug for "Itiva", which has some technology they call "Quantum Streaming" (tm). Itiva's web site is vague, but this seems to be more about DRM than transmission: "Itiva enables publishers and media content owners to monetize media content. The technology protects copyrighted material, supports embedded advertising, and defines the future direction of video publishing over the Internet." Itiva has done a demo, one that basically demonstrates that if you have 5.5Mb/s to the user, streaming works reasonably well.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"