Latest Threat To Clog The Internet: Bird Flu

from the say-what? dept

Now, we've heard all sorts of nutty claims over the years that the internet was on the verge of collapsing -- but at least most of them seemed to be based on at least somewhat reasonable premises concerning new applications (such as video or file sharing) that use a lot more bandwidth than previous applications. However, the latest warning just seems to be fear mongering for the sake of fear mongering. Broadband Reports points out that some consultants (I'm sorry, "business continuity planners") are warning that bird flu could crash the internet next. The idea is that if there's a big bird flu pandemic, everyone will start working from home and telecommuting -- and that work will then overload the internet. This doesn't mean that such scenarios shouldn't be considered -- but it seems to go a bit far to assume that such an event would automatically overload the network. Assuming that most of the workers who need the internet already use it at work, all telecommuting would do is distribute the bandwidth use and maybe increase it at the margin. It's hard to see how having everyone switch to remote working would really add that much burden to the network -- but it sure makes for a good story for these consultants.
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  1. identicon
    Chuck Willis, 14 Feb 2007 @ 6:51am

    Internet Failure

    The internet won't fail from too many telecommuters, it will fail from the power grid not being up in many places due to lack of workers. Even if the internet providers have diesel backup, those diesels suck down fuel, and the oil companies have said privately that at 30% absense rate, they shut the refineries down. On any given day we have just a few weeks of stored fuel. Some amount of that will be untouchable, it will be reserved for the military, hospitals and critical government functions. If each wave drags on for 8-10 weeks, there can be a gap of 4-5 weeks when fuel isn't available to run the backup generators. No power, no internet. In a pandemic, you can't focus on just one piece of the infrastructure, you have to look at all of the pieces being affected at the same time. A study done by Booz-Allen last month with the World Health Organization and industry leaders basically concluded that by the 28th day into a pandemic, nearly all services have ceased activity, -- power, water, food distribution, telecommunications, medical services, energy production, etc. The Dept of Homeland Security has warned us for over a year of the same things and concerns. Our infrastructure is very complex, and very prone to failure when a large part of the workers are incapacitated. This isn't the flu where I catch it and feel bad and stay home for a few days. This is a flu that if I catch it and survive the first few days, I will basically be bed ridden for 4 or 5 weeks, and too weak to work for an additional 2-3 weeks. Our industry is not geared for that kind of absence. Failure of one piece of the infrastructure precipitates failure of the other pieces.

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