Friday, August 24, 2007

Internet Plumbing Clogged - Bandwidth is Maxed Out

Computing provides a smorgasbord of glutty abundance; the processors run faster than you can type, the hard drives spin at 10,000+ RPM, fast Internet connections allow the watching of three different YouTube videos at once. But as James Kunstler puts it, Peak Tech has arrived. Or, at least it has bought a ticket on the train.

Of particular interest is the saturation of the global bandwidth; this refers to the data rate that your internet connection supports and is usually measured in bits per second. A higher rate allows for more data to be pushed through the pipe; bottom line, this allows you to watch YouTube without fits and jerks. Bandwidth has exploded in the last few years, and there is now more capacity being used for monthly video transfers than the entire traffic of the Internet in 2000! File sharing is also a heavy user, estimated to be about one-third of all Internet traffic.

From the pic, you can see that some countries are more connected than others; many are struggling. Kazakhstan, a country with very limited networking infrastructure, charges $3355 a month for a DSL connection, which is about the same speed as a cable modem. China is trying to be competitive and only charging around $10, but that translates into 7.6 percent of their GDP. Connections in Africa are universally lousy; see Scott Hanselman's account of agile hoop-jumping in Rwanda to maintain surfing ability.

Simply, this can't last. Many colleges are already throttling connections and prioritizing traffic. Clark University, for example, gives one-third of its bandwidth to the faculty (pop. 745) and the other two-thirds to the students (pop. 3000). Buying more capacity is simply not an option, and at least one major provider, Comcast, is turning down the spigot at the source. The grim spectre of 'pay-as-you-go' may become reality; clamping down
on your web traffic now may prevent big bills later on. Another action item is to convert to thin clients; this eliminates networked file transfers. ::Telegeography :: ArsTechnica

1 comment:

stmesser said...

i think Comcast offers great Internet service.