Maybe Capacity Demand Isn't Exploding, After All

Carl Weinschenk

The conventional wisdom for some time has been that traffic on the Internet is exploding and that not creating more capacity will lead to slowdowns, brownouts and other bad things.


While it is clear that traffic is increasing, perhaps the second part of the assumption -- that the increases will have dire consequences -- needs to be reassessed. This Telephony Online story presents the views of Andrew Odlyzko, the director of the Interdisciplinary Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota. Odlyzko says that while demand for Internet capacity is rising at an annual rate of 50 percent to 60 percent, the trends lines are showing reduced growth and current capital investment can handle emerging needs.


The news isn't all good, however. Odlyzko says traffic demand increases are slowing in places such as Hong Kong, where there is a huge amount of bandwidth available. The story says that the increase in demand is not decelerating in the U.S., but doesn't say whether significant capital investment increases will be needed. The bottom line seems to be that demand growth is slowing in aggregate, but that the situation is markedly different depending upon the region.


The tie between Odlyzko's findings and the gate of projects such as Internet2 and IPv6 is simply that a reduction of the sense of emergency can lead to inertia. Remove the emergency -- or the sense of emergency -- and projects are prone to bog down.


IPv6, of course, has been battling inertia since it started. It is a scheme aimed at replenishing the rapidly dwindling reservoir of available addresses. Government Computer News looks at the likelihood that the feds -- which just passed an IPv6 deadline -- will help industry implement the protocol.


On the infrastructure side, Internet2 -- which is aimed at vastly increasing the speed of the Internet -- has opted for a five-year strategic plan that will make it more accessible to non-experts. Hopefully, these projects won't be effected by any perception that they are less than vital.


Nobody is suggesting that further investments in broadband infrastructure, management and procedures aren't necessary. Too much is unknown, such as the way in which IPTV and other forms of online video will impact rates in the long term. Hopefully, projects aimed at increasing network capacity -- and getting the United States closer to the top in the listing of broadband nations -- will pay no attention to the possibility that the demand curve is flattening.

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