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.

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Comments on “Broadband Crunch Still Nowhere To Be Found; Internet Growth May Actually Be Slowing”

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Matt Bennett says:

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)

LDøBë says:

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.

LDøBë says:


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

Anonymous Coward says:

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!?

PaulT (profile) says:

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.

Allen (profile) says:

I just checked out the source data

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Another Planet says:

“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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