Is it true that the Internet could slow down?
Author : Shawn Oliver
There are several stories circulating on the Internet regarding bandwidth (the speed at which you access the Internet) and how it is going to begin to reach capacity very soon unless something is done. This will render the Internet almost completely useless for everything but the simplest and slimmest of applications.
The reason given is because the demand for high-speed Internet access is growing at a rate of 60% each year. Estimates tell us that by as early as 2010, we could begin to see excessive slowdowns in Internet response based purely on the amount of traffic that is traversing the web around the world.
In addition to the mammoth demand growth factor is the fact that bandwidth-hogging applications like YouTube and other multimedia streaming sources are causing bandwidth to slow down as well.
What does all of this mean? It means that the Internet would not be fast enough for much beyond maybe checking email. Feature-rich web pages would churn slowly on your screen. It would take many minutes to log onto your online bank account to check your balance. In effect, it would be like the days when we had to use analog modems to connect to the Internet. One potential concern resulting from eventuality would be that operating system (Microsoft Windows, Mac, etc.) and other business and home application patches and updates would be slowed down, as would be antivirus definitions, etc.
How else could it affect you? If you are now enjoying the high speed of your Internet connection, enjoy it while you can. But beyond that, businesses that have begun to depend on the Internet could be forced to do business the old fashioned way using snail mail, faxing and other resources to send and receive information around the world. Imagine a world without the ability to download movies or music and where the act of researching information on Wikipedia would be slowed to a crawl. All of this and the other myriad of website applications that you enjoy now would be challenging to view.
What is being done? There are several options being looked into right now. US companies and those in the UK are busy right now in an effort to upgrade infrastructure, cabling and supercomputers to expand the capabilities of the Internet. There is also talk about planning a very fast parallel network called "The Grid." Other consultants are conferring on the idea of creating systems for "caching" (storing frequently requested information) on servers in the cloud rather than having the Internet deliver information on demand as it is needed.
The bottom line - there is nothing for the average user to do at this point. Keeping informed as to the possibilities that might occur will help you understand the 'whys' behind any major slowdowns that you might face in the near future. Technology has accomplished amazing feats in the last 20 years, and the hope is that something will be devised and implemented quickly to maintain the instant, any time access to information and entertainment that we all need and desire. That is what makes the Internet such an important resource for us all.