Monday, December 6, 2010

Is The Internet About To Get Very Slow?

Is our present infrastructure for the Internet about to be overwhelmed?  Will it be bogged down to a crawl by a use rise in the bandwidth asked of it?

via: DroidLife
The warnings signs have been there.  Just recently, there was a short article about the new plan Verizon had announced for use of their new LTE network.  Verizon will offer two plans, a 5GB and 10GB.  We will not concern ourselves with how much the plans are.  The interesting thing about that announcement was the measurements that were done by PC Magazine and reported in several blogs on the Internet.  With the 5GB plan, if you used it as you might use it at home, you would use up the entire monthly allotment in 32 minutes.  With this same measurement, you would burn through the 10GB limit in about 90 minutes.  The chart listed from DroidLife shows you the specifics.

One might argue that these limits are imposed because it is a cellular network.  This is partly true.  But this view ignores the larger looming problem.  Our regular non-cellular Internet is about to be engulfed by a torrent of data demands that will test its bandwidth beyond endurance.  In 2008, AT&T made a dire announcement.  It stated their estimate that without investment, the Internet's current architecture would reach its limit of capacity by 2010.  Now it is not clear if this is purposely alarmist, so AT&T and others (Verizon, Comcast, etc.), could raise their rates to cover this "investment."  The growth, however, is not untrue.
The surge in online content is at the center of the most dramatic changes affecting the Internet today," he said. "In three years' time, 20 typical households will generate more traffic than the entire Internet today.
The predictions by AT&T was that there would be a 50-fold increase in broadband traffic by 2015.  AT&T stated that to counter this, they would be investing $19 billion dollars to maintain and upgrade its backbone.

Internet Backbone
network switch (Amsterdam Internet Exchange)
According to wikipedia the Internet backbone, refers to, "...the principal data routes between large, strategically interconnected networks and core routers in the Internet."  These routes are hosted by commercial, government, academic and other high-capacity network centers.  So the backbone refers to the physical infrastructure through which Internet travels.  Within this structure there are Internet Exchange Points (IXP).  These exchange points connect different Internet Service Providers.  Each of these exchanges are mode up of network switches, usually one per each service provider.  The Internet Service providers who use the switch all share in the operating costs of the switch.  Some Internet Service Providers have direct connections to each other, thereby, bypassing the internet exchange point.  If this direct connection fails or is slow, they then use the exchange switch.    Here is fairly accurate list of Internet Exchange Points in the world.  Here is a list of these exchange points sorted by size.

via: cnet click to enlarge
The contention is that with the increase of video streaming, the present available bandwidth will not be able to handle it.  As evidence of this is the fact that Netflix alone uses at least 20% of the available bandwidth every day from the hours of 8-10PM.  There is also BBC's iPlayer, which streams video from TV programs in the UK.  In 2007, several Internet Service Providers complained about the amount of bandwidth the player consumed, with the 3.5 million members using it.  Several of these providers threatened to step up "traffic shaping," a euphemism for a raise in rates to cover the additional expenditures required to deal with this additional bandwidth.  Youtube, according to the latest statistics, receives 35 hours of video every minute of the every day, which amounts to 50,400 hours of new video every day.  The average view spends watches 4.5 hours of video every month on Youtube.

Here is a video explanation of how the Internet works and sends traffic.

All of the events happening in these videos are happening at blinding speeds.

Nielsen's Law Of Internet Bandwidth
Jacob Nielsen
Nielsen Law
Jacob Nielsen Ph.D., is a well known consultant for "web usability." This term refers to how a website is designed for maximum effectiveness.  But apart from those services, he is also well known for Nielsen's Law which deals with the network connection speeds.  His prediction has been that the connection speeds for the top users, increases 50% every year.  This is a slower growth rate than Moore's Law regarding the processing speed of computer chips, which has a growth rate of 60% annually.  So for as long as Nielsen has been tracking connection speeds (since 1983), the connection speeds have been losing ground to computer processing speeds.

Internet2/National Broadband/NGA (Next Generation Access)

This video was done for Australia, but the principle is still the same for the United States and anywhere in the world where this is being implemented.  There is no question that as the Internet grows, video streaming on demand will be the norm.  This is the visible prediction of what at least some of the demands for additional bandwidth are.  There may be additional demands from new innovations that we have no way of predicting right now, but which, are surely coming.  This video streaming is part of a term called "real time entertainment."  This category accounts for 43% of peak traffic in the U.S.

One critical element of this new fast network is the what is termed the last 1,000 feet by the telecommunications industry.  This refers to the average distance between the home and the fiber optic cable.  This distinction is essential due to the fact that most Americans and people around the world, have those last 1,000 feet covered by twister pair copper wire, such as was used by the telephone company, called POTS (plain old telephone service).  This cooper wire, does not have the bandwidth of fiber optic cable.  With this National Broadband Plan there is a push to take the fiber optic cable the last 1,000 feet to the subscribers home, known as FTTH (fiber optic to the home).  This is the technology behind Verizon's FIOS and Comcast's All in one package of TV, Phone and Internet combined.  Only fiber optic can deliver this kind of combined bandwidth.  Sometimes, the term FTTX is used.  The X is simply a variable that can stand for the home, business, curb, basement, node or premises.  In terms of the speed there are varying degrees of difference, with the ultimate speed gain being FTTH.  There are many technical details we are not including here, which may be investigated in the above cited link (FTTX).  The ultimate goal in speeding up the Internet is to get rid of copper wiring throughout the entire network and using exclusively fiber optic cable.  Economically, the costs of fiber optic cable have been going down, while, copper wire has been going up.

How much faster is fiber optic cable than copper wire?  Fiber optic is at least 1,000 times faster.  This of course presents a big problem.  If users now have the ability to watch TV, movies, or use other data-intensive services, they will.  This means that the Internet Service Providers will have to keep up with the dramatic increases in bandwidth.  Wi-Fi, WiMax and LTE are all wireless attempts to match National Broadband Plan.  There is a connection between the plans for an electrical smart grid and this next generation access Internet.  The implementation of a electrical smart grid assumes a NGA network.

via: Web Analytics World
The fastest Internet networks in the world right now exist in South Korea and Japan.  The average connection speed in South Korea is 14.6Mbps (megabytes per second).  Japan comes in second at 7.9Mbps.  After those in the world, are Romania, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Czech Republic.  The United States is in 18th place with an average speed of 3.9Mbps connection speed.  In South Korea, 74% of the population has broadband connections, Japan 60%, Hong Kong 46% and the United States 24%.  The world average is 19%.  These reports are issued yearly by Akamai, entitled, State of the Internet.

Why is South Korea ahead of the United States?  One report, from CNN, links it to higher competition, with more companies offering service than in the United States.
"...enables the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress to be downloaded in just over one second; every man, woman and child in China to make a video call, simultaneously; and every motion picture ever created to be streamed in less than four minutes." Cisco
Cisco CRS-3 via: Cisco

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The world's Internet will face an onslaught of data in the near future.  Cisco has announced a routing system which will go a long way toward alleviating some of the bottlenecks with the CRS-3 Carrier Routing System.  This system will have the capability to reach speeds up to 322 Terabits per second.  This is three times faster than their previous system.  This speed far surpasses the present speeds that any individual would have available to them on the Internet today.  We suspect that the general rule will be that no matter how much bandwidth is allocated, subscribers will use it and eventually want more.  The streaming video revolution began the strain on our present Internet.  This is just the beginning, as more and more people will be making video calls.  People will come to expect instant response from their machines on the Internet.  Once they get use to this speed, they will not be able to revert back to their slower days.

1 comment:

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