Research suggests Internet could run out of bandwidth in the coming years

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Will the Internet run out of bandwidth? That’s the concern expressed by an upcoming study, and it could mean the end of the Internet as we know it. Uselessly slow Web sites (think: YouTube, Hulu), Internet “brownouts” (“please wait: processing request”), and general mayhem could be the norm in just a few years’ time. So let’s freak out about it.

The study, carried out by Nemertes Research, suggests that the proliferation of bandwidth-intensive Web sites (again, YouTube, Hulu, and iPlayer for you Brits) and services (BitTorrent) is wreaking havoc on the Internet’s fragile infrastructure. The implication is that, sure, the Internet can handle World Wide Web hyperlinks as the day is long, but once you have millions of people streaming and downloading video, the whole thing comes crashing down.

The recession has only made things worse. More people are home (not at work, then) either passing the time fiddling online or cruising craigslist looking for jobs.

Compare the Internet today to the Internet of only a few years ago. Did we have The Simpsons on demand in the year 2000? Nope. At best you could troll alt.tv.simpsons to find links to Web sites that had a weekly Real Media encode of that week’s episode (as I remember it). Or you could read the script on snpp.com. In fact, “The amount of traffic generated each month by YouTube is now equivalent to the amount of traffic generated across the entire internet in all of 2000.” Yikes.

(How great would it be if all this “cloud” nonsense takes off, and then you can’t access your data in a timely manner?)

In any event, call me a skeptic. I’ve read too many “the Internet is doomed!” articles to take ‘em seriously any more. Or, as they say on message boards, pics or it didn’t happen.

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