Internet at full capacity by 2010 warning from AT&T
by Lin Freestone
April 19, 2008
AT&T, the US telecommunications conglomerate, has claimed that, without investment, the Internet's current network architecture will reach the limits of its capacity by 2010.
A warning that the current systems that constitute the Internet will not be able to cope with the increasing amounts of video and user-generated content being uploaded has been made by Jim Cicconi, vice president of legislative affairs for AT&T.
He estimated that investment in infrastructure of at least $55bn will be needed in the network in the US. This could rise to $130bn in order to improve the worldwide network.
AT&T is investing $19bn to maintain its network and upgrade its backbone network.
Speaking at a forum in London, Jim Cicconi said that the surge in online content is at the centre of the most dramatic changes affecting the Internet today. In three years' time, 20 typical households could generate more traffic than the entire Internet today.
He was speaking at a Westminster eForum on Web 2.0 this week as part of a wider series of meetings with UK government officials. He claimed that broadband traffic could increase 50-fold by 2015.
More demand for high-definition video will put an increasing strain on the Internet infrastructure. He pointed out that eight hours of video is loaded onto YouTube every minute. HD is seven to 10 times more bandwidth-hungry than typical video today. Video will be 80% of all traffic by 2010, up from 30% today.
He pointed out that the Internet is not created by an act of God, but upgraded and maintained by private investors. He said in the following question-and-answer session that he believes that government intervention in the Internet is fundamentally wrong.
He resisted using the term ‘Net neutrality’ as it refers to an ongoing campaign calling for governments to legislate to prevent Internet service providers from charging content providers for prioritisation of their traffic. The debate is more heated in the United States than in the United Kingdom because there is less competition between ISPs in the States.
Content creators argue that Net neutrality should be legislated in order to protect consumers and keep all Internet traffic equal. Network operators and service providers argue that the Internet is already unequal, and certain types of traffic, VoIP, for example, require prioritisation by default.
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