Whatever Happened To The Exaflood?
from the gone-baby-gone dept
If you remember, about five years ago, a bunch of astroturfing and front groups for the broadband companies started spreading this myth that the internet was facing a catastrophe known as the the exaflood, in which internet traffic would swamp capacity and the internet would sputter to a crawl. They talked about things like “brown outs” where so much traffic would make the internet difficult to navigate. Of course, it was all FUD and scare tactics to hide the real intent: to allow the telcos to put more tollbooths on the internet, to double charge some popular internet companies, and to generally try to avoid investing in basic infrastructure. Of course, it was easy to debunk those claims, but five years later, Broadband Reports takes a look at some of the latest data to note that the feared exaflood never showed up, and the predictions of clogged pipes never appeared — and the data on internet growth shows little likelihood of that ever happening.
Cisco’s latest numbers are an ever further cry from what telecom sector lobbyists and think tankers were predicting in 2010 and before, when they were using a looming “exaflood” to scare regulators and the press and public into buying into bad telecom policy. Companies like Nemertes Research and The Discovery Institute (the latter a PR firm paid directly by carriers, the former long accused of having a rather cozy relationship with AT&T) insisted we’d be seeing Internet “brown outs” by this point courtesy of unsustainable growth rates of up to 100% or more.
The scary predictions were effective. Said lobbyists, think tankers, astroturfers and “fauxcademics” convinced many people that if the telecom industry wasn’t given “X” (X being anything from fewer consumer protections and more subsidies to the right to bill by the byte or avoid network neutrality rules), that the Internet would collapse. That obviously never happened and intelligent engineers and networks adjusted, but few of the people who massaged data for their own financial ends over the last five to eight years were ever really held accountable.
Of course, there’s always more fear and FUD to go around, so expect plenty more stories about looming problems if we don’t give the big broadband guys whatever anti-competitive thing that they want going forward…