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The Internet Ends in 2010
Unless you give AT&T what they want
by Karl Bode 10:56AM Monday Nov 19 2007
More warnings of a looming bandwidth apocalypse, this time from USAToday, who insists that the Internet "will start to seem pokey as early as 2010, as use of interactive and video-intensive services overwhelms local cable, phone and wireless Internet providers."

The paper is (none too skeptically) regurgitating the findings of Nemertes Research, who insist that ISPs need to invest $55 billion -- or 70% more than currently planned -- if they want to avoid a capacity crunch. Gaze into their crystal ball:
The findings indicate that by 2010, the Internet’s capacity will not likely accommodate user demand. As a result, users could increasingly encounter Internet “brownouts” or interruptions to the applications they’ve become accustomed to using on the internet. For example, it may take more than one attempt to confirm an online purchase or it may take longer to download the latest video from YouTube. Overall, the impact of this inadequate infrastructure will be primarily to slow down the pace of innovation.
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Of course the fact that capacity is important is not news, and providers can either upgrade their networks to handle demand -- or go out of business. They unsurprisingly almost always choose the former, and the chicken littles are always wrong. So why do the warnings continue?

As we've stated previously, most warnings of capacity armageddon come from traffic shaping companies looking to sell hardware, or industry lobbyists trying to shape policy through think tanks. In this case Nemertes's study was funded with help from the Internet Innovation Alliance, a group spearheaded by AT&T.

The IIA has been pushing the idea of a looming "exaflood" for some time, with the primary goal being industry deregulation. The argument being that if these companies don't get exactly what they want from lawmakers in Washington, the entire Internet collapses and we're back to using soup cans and string.

If you're not afraid yet, the IIA recently offered up this video aimed at convincing you the end is near. They don't make their sales pitch until 4:20, where they hint that "wise public policy" (read: positions favored by their clients such as franchise reform and no network neutrality laws) should save us from the bandwidth bogeyman.

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