Internet Bandwidth Concerns

Posted on Thursday 22 November 2007

I received an interesting news article in my RSS feed from CBC today. It was all about an American report about how the Internet is nearing capacity. (You can read it here) I just loved their line…

The company is not predicting that the internet will collapse, but it will get very slow. “Overall, transmitting over a saturated broadband link will feel a lot like the bad old days of dial-up: Long pauses between request and response, with some applications just too painful to bother with.”

I guess I’m showing my age, because to me those were exciting days. I used to love listening to the beeps and pings between the modems as they tried to connect and I would watch the status lights flash quickly and slowly as the two modems negotiated their way through the transfer of a package I thought worthy of acquiring…. sigh. (Yeah I know, I digress…)

What I thought fascinating about this article, wasn’t so much what it said, but what it avoided! According to what CBC wrote, the blame for this future cataclysm was based upon the intensive use being put upon the Internet by such things as:

  • Streaming and/or interactive video
  • Sharing music files
  • Cellphone and Blackberry accesses
  • A lack of investment to expand the Internet

Now I admit that those reasons “may” certainly impact the Internet but one has to wonder how many other times someone ran around saying, “The Internet is falling. The Internet is falling.” Don’t get me wrong, those are definitely issues, but I believe that technology will be able to expand and handle them. I’ve read about more “breakthroughs” on bandwidth speed now, than I have ever seen in the past ten years! Here are just a few that I’ve seen…

So, I think we are pretty well covered for what CBC reported as a concern. However, what I am really surprised at and what the report didn’t appear to mention (according to CBC at least) was the coming huge explosion of Internet usage by second and third world countries, in particular India and China.

Yes, everyone is talking about China right now and how the Internet is impacting it. But no one seems to be talking about how China will impact the Internet! China has an exploding economy. It is generating huge amounts of products and racking up gargantuan levels of surplus income. From $1billion in 1997 to $9.8billion in 2006!

China has anywhere from 1/5 to 1/4 of the worlds population with India having 1/6 to 1/5! We are talking about a population count in the multiple of billions! But hardly anyone is talking about what happens when they start using the Internet!

I did a quick Google search using the phrase “Impact of China on the Internet” and only got two hits! Yet if you search for “Impact of the Internet on China” you’ll get over 700! If you do the same search for India you only get five articles about how the Internet impacts India and none on how India will affect the Internet!

What is even more astounding is that both of the articles about China’s impact on the Internet don’t even talk about bandwidth issues. I found this interesting quote, which will hopefully put things in perspective. Courtesy of a blog by Paull Budde…

Asia claims the world’s largest regional Internet market, with around 437 million Internet users (a user penetration of 12%) by mid-2007.

Right now, according to Internet World Stats, we have a 39.3% penetration of ALL THE AMERICAS (North and South) and tally only 350 million. So once Asia, not even India, gets up to our level of penetration (and they will) that will add over 850 million new users! I think that is something to worry about! So why isn’t anyone writing about it?

It boggles my mind, it really does…

Man I sure hope all those bandwidth breakthroughs come through soon!

End Article

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