Internet Capacity

A recent report from Nemertes suggests that the Internet will run out of capacity to deliver broadband to the masses by 2012. Specifically, “Our findings indicate that although core fiber and switching/routing resources will scale nicely to support virtually any conceivable user demand, Internet access infrastructure, specifically in North America, will likely cease to be adequate for supporting demand within the next three to five years.” The effect of this will not be a collapse, but rather a stifling of innovation. “The next Google, YouTube, or Amazon might not arise, not because of a lack of demand, but due to an inability to fulfill that demand.”

By modeling demand and capacity independently, Nemertes says that they took a new approach to gathering their data. This approach was considered important since, “it allows us to decouple the impact of capacity on demand. If they are not decoupled, the model will fail to capture a scenario in which capacity is limiting demand.”

After running the numbers Nemertes determined that in 2010 demand will exceed effective capacity. At that point, “the investment that would be required then to close the gap in North America amounts to $43 billion—nearly 60% of the projected carrier investment of $72 billion.”


The essential problem, though, is not how much capacity was available in the past or is available now, but how much will be available in the future.



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