Broadband Crunch Still Nowhere To Be Found; Internet Growth May Actually Be Slowing

from the overreact-much? dept

While consultants, telco lobbyists and politicians keep insisting that the internet is on the verge of collapse as more high bandwdith apps and services move online, we continue to rely on the folks who actually understand what's going on (and have access to real traffic reports) to give us a more accurate picture. The most reliable on this subject tends to be Andrew Odlyzko who has been calling the claims of a coming broadband crunch a myth for quite some time.

Broadband Reports points out that Odlyzko is back with his latest analysis of internet traffic (and he actually makes his data available). And, once again, he's quite skeptical of any broadband crunch, noting that internet traffic appears to be growing at a rather predictable pace that can easily be handled by standard technology upgrades.

Actually, he notes that there's even some evidence of that internet growth is actually slowing down. If anything, he suggests that broadband ISPs would probably be better served encouraging greater usage, because it looks like the growth rates aren't keeping up with what they once were. He also notes that in other countries, where there's much greater broadband than in the US, there isn't necessarily a huge corresponding growth in internet usage -- suggesting that, unlike what some claim, there is a point of bandwidth saturation (at least until new apps come along). So the next time you hear a politician or lobbyist insist that the internet is on the verge of collapse, point them over to Odlyzko's data, and suggest that we should be focusing on ways to encourage more internet usage, rather than limiting it with silly and totally unnecessary things like metered broadband usage.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Nitro, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 2:52pm

    First!

    First

     

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    identicon
    Nitro, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Internet usage...

    Scare tactics to get money. Nothing new.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    So, I'm curious, Mike. Are you in favor of legislating against metered usage? You obviously don't like it (nor do I), but to legislate against it would be to add to artificial limitations on a free market. Or, do you feel as there has already been some (or extensive) monkeying in the telco and cable market (and therefore brodaband) it is justified cuz the market is no longer very natural? What about in the wireless market, where contracts aside, consumer choice still reigns? (even if it's inferior broadband, it still works)

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 4:17pm

      Re:

      In most of the countries there is no all-you-can-eat systems. You need to pay as you use. I think it is very reasonable.

      In all-you-can-eat systems it is usually low intensity users who endup paying for intense users.

       

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      Mike (profile), Aug 6th, 2008 @ 4:23pm

      Re:

      So, I'm curious, Mike. Are you in favor of legislating against metered usage?

      No, not legislating against it. The issue of metered broadband is a symptom of a bigger problem, which is that there's not real competition in the market. I disagree with your assertion also that the broadband market is a free market. It's not. It's been so corrupted by gov't process and subsidies that it's not a free market at all.

       

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        Matt Bennett, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 6:42am

        Re: Re:

        Well, the FCC controls and auctions off spectrum. Even if we could've lived without that, there's at least plausible reasons why that had to be done. But what subsidies do you speak of?

         

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          Mike (profile), Aug 7th, 2008 @ 1:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, the FCC controls and auctions off spectrum. Even if we could've lived without that, there's at least plausible reasons why that had to be done. But what subsidies do you speak of?

          Direct subsidies, tax breaks, rights of ways, fees, the list goes on and on.

           

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    Andrew, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 2:58pm

    Well its obvious what's happening here... You changed the results by measuring them

     

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    ZZ, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 3:13pm

    Metered Service

    Yeah, metered internet service would kill internet application innovation like metered electric service killed electrical device innovation. Except it didn't.

     

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      Mike (profile), Aug 6th, 2008 @ 4:19pm

      Re: Metered Service

      Yeah, metered internet service would kill internet application innovation like metered electric service killed electrical device innovation. Except it didn't.

      Foregone innovation is hard to measure. The issue isn't that it would kill innovation, it's that it would slow innovation. How much real innovation have you seen in electric service lately anyway?

      But, either way broadband and electricity are quite different animals, and I'd argue that if electricity were charged on a flat rate basis, you'd see a lot more interesting products out in the market than you do today.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

        Re: Re: Metered Service

        But, either way broadband and electricity are quite different animals, and I'd argue that if electricity were charged on a flat rate basis, you'd see a lot more interesting products out in the market than you do today.
        So you think that metered electricity is holding back innovation in the field of electrictiy? Wow, I'll have to remember that one. I think that if you ask most people to list the major innovations of the last 100 years there would be a lot electrical devices on that list (electric lighting, radio/television, computers/internet, electrical refrigeration/cooling, etc.). Perhaps you've heard of some of these things? And all with metered electricity. You see, metering allowed the power companies to be neutral as to what the electricity was being used for or how much of it the customer used as long as the customer paid for it. I wonder how many of those things the power companies would have permitted (especially air conditioning) if in the absence of metering they sought to limit usage by limiting applications instead.

        How much real innovation have you seen in electric service lately anyway?
        Actually, I'd say that metering is the driving force behind most innovations in improving electrical energy efficiency and finding new sources of energy from which to produce electricity. There is a lot of activity in those areas, yet you speak as if you aren't aware of any of it. I find that very odd.

         

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    LDøBë, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 3:55pm

    Metered Electricity

    Metered electricity really isn't that pertinent of an argument. Metering electricity doesn't cause problems because its pricing isn't exorbitant. Another point is that no matter how much electricity a particular household uses, there's always more than enough electrical power readily available to run it.
    The problem is, the infrastructure of Telcos is very expensive to build and maintain, and compared with electricity, is not as essential to conducting "modern life."
    If power companies began to bitch about the size of the cities causing problems for their infrastructure, both politicians, and consumers alike would hear none of it.

     

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    LDøBë, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 4:01pm

    Additionally

    I forgot to put in my original argument:
    Though I am completely against it in every way, metered bandwidth would actually cause innovation. It would be in the areas of data compression, as well as internet based apps that download the data onto the PC, like Google Gears. It would also innovate how IT professionals program servers to generate and process code, sending more compact and efficient webpages and data streams to users by calculating what types of data would be suitable for the bandwidth available, such as with the newer GMail system, which has greatly reduced its HTTP request count, and will choose to serve a given user a high or low bandwidth version of its site depending on the connection speeds and ping times

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 10:10pm

      Re: Additionally

      OH YES, because absolutely no one is trying to compress data nowadays! "They" will come out of "nowhere" to create new "algorithms" -- I hear that's what they call them -- to compress "data" that travels on the "internets", all because of metered bandwidth. Nevermind that the internet is already on this kind of a system, but forcing it upon home users will obviously have some great impact on research done in the field, despite the extremely already lucrative oppourtunities that are already available for anyone who is already in that kind of a work.

      Genius! Are you available for hire!?

       

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        LDøBë, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 2:25am

        Re: Re: Additionally

        I did say I was against metered bandwidth, my point is that even some of the darkest storm clouds can drop interesting precipitation.

         

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    PaulT (profile), Aug 6th, 2008 @ 5:14pm

    This is news? Pretty much everyone who wants broadband must have it by now, surely? What's left is convincing Luddites that they may want to use the 'net for more than email and getting access to those areas whose infrastructure hasn't allowed it yet.

    Other than that, it's just a question of what the connections get used for. A massive increase in bandwidth usage, unless there's a major killer app waiting around the corner, is pretty unlikely in the medium term.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 6:14pm

    The day the US of A can declare War using the Interwebs will be a great day for them!

     

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    Allen (profile), Aug 6th, 2008 @ 10:12pm

    I just checked out the source data

    Mike,
    I'm going to have to spend more than 15 minutes looking at Odlyzko's site.

    However, the source data appears to be mostly internet exchanges and universities. The few network operators that I checked appear to be reporting on core traffic. He cites reports from a few other areas that I need to look at to come to a conclusion.

    My first impressions are that he is looking at the wrong part of the network, about as far away from a broadband user as you can get.

    I dont know what broadband traffic patterns look like out at the edge of the network but a quick look at the source leaves me wondering if Odlyzko does either.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 6:31am

      Re: I just checked out the source data

      Looking at the wrong part of the network? The argument has always been that any congestion that exists is because the Telecos won't improve their infrastructure. Looking at the core and finding that it's very under-utilized just ads credence to that position. If the telecos are charging us extra because of congestion, it's congestion they caused by not improving their networks.

       

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        Allen (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:48am

        Re: Re: I just checked out the source data

        AC, let me paraphrase that:

        "looking at the core and finding that it's under-utilized just ads credence to [the] position [...] that any congestion that exists is because the Telecos wont improve their infrastructure"

        Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing with me?

         

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    identicon
    Another Planet, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 1:39am

    "This is news? Pretty much everyone who wants broadband must have it by now, surely? What's left is convincing Luddites that they may want to use the 'net for more than email and getting access to those areas whose infrastructure hasn't allowed it yet."

    It must be nice tripping over all those pesky excess piles of money.

     

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