Global bandwidth famine to impact all internet users

Demand for Internet bandwidth will more than double in two years and grow by an order of magnitude in five years

The bandwidth glut, if it ever existed, is officially history and the world's consumers are facing a bandwidth famine according to an independent Global Bandwidth Study commissioned by CIP Technologies.

The study says that demands for Internet bandwidth will more than double in two years and grow by an order of magnitude in five years, placing excessive demands on current network architectures.

Specifically, CIP predicts that bandwidth demand will exceed 160 Tbits/s by 2010 – an annual demand that exceeds the equivalent of the combined broadband network usage of the previous decade (1998-2008). Driving the bandwidth explosion is use of online video and data services, which includes the BBC's iPlayer and YouTube, has seen the demand for internet bandwidth soar.

The author of the new independent study, David Payne, formerly BT and now with the Institute of Advanced Telecommunications at Swansea University , has calculated that the increasing demands are not a temporary change in behaviour, but the beginning of a massive requirement for additional bandwidth as the use of online video and data services increases.

David Payne explained, "Around the turn of the millennium, we used to talk about a bandwidth glut. There was a lot of idle capacity. Networks now are being used in a way that few people foresaw, for example early take-up of personalised video, rather than broadcast television, dominating internet video services. Based on a range of service scenario models, it is clear that demands for bandwidth will continue to put increasing pressure on existing network infrastructures.

“By 2018, assuming that this capacity is made available by the operators; usage could grow to 40 to 100 times the levels seen in networks today. However it is difficult to see how operators can economically grow existing network architectures to meet this demand, and further consideration of the types of networks and the technology deployed is required if they are to ensure profitability.”

CIP concluded that a significant investment is needed to ensure that businesses can share large files and send high quality images for health, design and videoconferencing purposes. Said David Smith, Chief Technology Officer for CIP, said: "Current telecom networks will be unable to cope with the scaling demands for bandwidth. A step-change in technology is needed that can not only deliver this bandwidth demand at economic cost but also significantly reduce the amount of energy required to power and cool it. The current technology will be physically too large and energy-hungry to deliver the levels of bandwidth growth demanded by users. A new technology is required that will help deliver the bandwidth and support the telcos' challenge to reduce costs and their carbon footprint."

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