Oh No, Now The Rapid Internet Growth Is Going To Use Up All Our Electricity

from the extrapolations-are-fun dept

We recently pointed out yet another telco-funded study warning about how the internet was going to be overwhelmed by massive traffic growth if the government didn’t step in and give telcos everything they wished. However, the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Internet Traffic Studies (MINTS) has responded to the report noting, yet again, that the data put forth by the telcos is totally overblown. The actual evidence suggests internet growth is not nearly as rapid as the original report stated and, in fact, there’s substantial evidence that the rate of internet usage is slowing. Just as we’ve seen from various earlier studies, it appears that regular upgrades to equipment, rather than wholesale gov’t handouts to telcos, should be more than enough to keep the internet humming.

But don’t be surprised to start seeing other fear tactics come into play. For example, an anonymous reader sent in news of a report coming out of Australia, warning that we shouldn’t just be worried about bandwidth running out, but that all the energy it takes to run the internet will now be putting a strain on the electric grid. Of course, that seems to assume the same rapid pace of growth that the original (incorrect) report claimed, so I don’t think we need to worry about our electricity running out due to people downloading too many videos any time soon. But, still, you should probably expect to see such arguments show up coming out of politicians in the very near future.

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Comments on “Oh No, Now The Rapid Internet Growth Is Going To Use Up All Our Electricity”

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lordmorgul says:

New technologies solve these issues....

The people who like to make these foolish predictions and put out ‘sky is falling’ reports often ignore the advance of technologies that has through all human history solved these issues as they arise. We have made huge strides in low-power routers and servers as well as improved cooling for data centers. The major trend of post-2002 computer architecture design is reduced power consumption in processors and whole systems.

I wouldn’t suggest that any problem we face can be solved by research and new tech, but these two certainly can be even if the growth estimates (grossly overstated as they are) turn out correct. Nobody needs to panic that global adoption of email and web browsing is going to kill us all.

YoMamma says:

It’s a faulty assumption that the Internet or anything that draws power from the grid would be a 100% addition to our usual consumption.

When I got a radio, I turned it on and used it – but when I got a TV, I didn’t leave the radio on as well… when I got a computer, I didn’t leave the TV and Radio on (although I watched TV on the computer).

With all the more and more efficient electronics I’d say – per person – our energy consumption is the same or less.

However, with more and more people able to take advantage of energy consuming devices, it may be an issue.

Joe (profile) says:

I think we may see a spike in internet growth

Not to say that we should be worried about the drain of power, but I think we will see a spike in internet useage as people start to forego their paid cable TV in favor of online video. Now that there is a portal with tons of content (not everything but it’s growing) i think more and more people will ask “Why do I pay $40-$100 a month for Cable TV when i can stream it through my PC and put it on my TV?…for free”

I’m canceling my cable this weekend…just waiting to get 1 more cable to run sound from my PC to my TV. The flood gates may open in this regard within my demographic by mid next year. (i’m in the M 18-34 demographic)

After that starts it will start moving to the mainstream as we show our parents how to do it without any hassle.

Chad says:

I don’t think it will have a HUGE impact on the grid, but I’m thinking about it now and internet usage (the equipment is what I’m talking about) HAS to be adding to the power consumption.

I’m in charge of making sure the internet works in our office here, and although we are a relatively small office, we currently are running five 48-port switches, 4 smaller switches, and a router. On top of that we have a massive array of switches and equipment for the IP phone system.

In the past (without the internet), none of this hardware would have needed power (because it didn’t exist), and I would assume that EVERY office has at least a rudimentary internet system like we do here.

I don’t think it’s generally talking about the average home user who has a single router and switch, a computer, and a TV that remains off.. the major impact to power consumption comes from the office use of internet more than anything.

Think about your average office building. Think about how many computers the staff might need. Think about every one of those computers needing internet, and therefore needing hardware to support it….. I don’t know what the power consumption of my office’s simple internet solution is, but it has to be a lot more than if it didn’t exist at all.

And for the record, I leave my TV on while using the internet at home!

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