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Is the Internet about to implode?

Is the Internet about to implode?

The net is now such an integral part of everyones daily life that it seems hard to imagine a time before it even existed. I am unfortunately old enough to clearly remember that time, however there are many theories that exponential growth may actually cause serious issues for us netlovers.

Industry expert and Nemertes President Johna Til Johnson recently wrote a very interesting article on Computerworld called "The Internet Sky really is falling" which details the issues of access capacity.

Time for the really bad news. Access capacity shortage isn’t the only — or even the worst — problem facing the ‘Net. IP itself is nearing end-of-life, with no ready alternative. Pretty much everyone’s aware that we’re running out of IPv4 addresses at an alarming rate, and despite more than a decade of massive promotion, IPv6 deployments are a tiny fraction of what they would have to be to meet the gap. A few people are also aware that due in part to increased multihoming, routing table sizes are increasing dramatically, to the point where they’ll exceed Moore’s Law’s ability to keep up. (IPv6 actually makes this problem worse, although how much so is a matter for debate).

In another recent article Johna discussed ‘peering’.

Guess what? When peering goes away, so does the Internet — because you’re no longer able to connect to anywhere from anywhere. A site on one network won’t be visible to users on other networks, unless the site owner is rich enough to buy connections to multiple networks.

Is the end nigh? Shall we all end up reading newspapers and magazines for our daily fixes? Arstechnica writer Nate Anderson made some great points in his article published today

The Internet’s core has plenty of bandwidth, so traffic growth really poses the biggest problem for access lines. Fortunately, big gains in capacity in the last mile aren’t "excruciatingly expensive." While Johnson’s single example is the most expensive last-mile buildout in the US (Verizon’s transition from copper lines to fiber optics), cable and DSL operators can upgrade their lines for bargain basement prices by adopting DOCSIS 3.0 (cable) or by running fiber deeper into the network (as with AT&T’s U-verse, which already offers 18Mbps connections over copper wire compared to 6Mbps on the rest of its network).

Besides, data increasingly fails to pass through the big Tier 1 providers anyway. New research out today from Arbor Networks and the University of Michigan shows that "over the last five years, Internet traffic has migrated away from the traditional Internet core of 10 to 12 Tier-1 international transit providers. Today, the majority of Internet traffic by volume flows directly between large content providers, datacenter/CDNs and consumer networks. Consequently, most Tier-1 networks have evolved their business models away from IP wholesale transit to focus on broader cloud/enterprise services, content hosting and VPNs."

It is a very interesting topic of debate, because many people using the net today, really don’t stop and actually think about how this big beautiful "WWW" really works.

Allan Campbell: Heaven Media

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Stuart Davidson

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