Interesting if slightly hyped article during the week in IT Wire on the immediate future of the internet. The article includes a link through to the original research.
A new report from the Nemertes Research Group has studied the Internet’s infrastructure and analyzed usage patterns to predict that Internet usage by consumers and corporations could ‘outstrip network capacity’ worldwide in just over two years. The report estimates that an additional global investment of around $US137 billion is required to maintain current standards.
In the absence of this additional spend traffic will outrun capacity, leading to rolling brown-outs marked by slow or interrupted traffic.
This type of forecast is not new. Over the last ten or fifteen years, there have been recurring warnings that traffic was outrunning capacity. So far, new investment has always come in time to address the problem. However, this time there could well be a problem.
On the demand side, we have increasing use of bandwidth hungry applications such as video along with an expansion in the number of users globally. I haven't looked at the numbers, but I would guess that between them India and China each year add a block of demand at least equivalent to an Australia in size.
On the supply side, investment depends upon the combined effect of decisions made by a large number of independent players servicing different sub-markets. So it would be possible for demand and supply to get out of kilter.
While the effects of rolling brown-outs would be annoying at individual level, the real damage would arise at business level because of the increasing number of internet based business processes.