Jun 212008

An interesting survey came out of the telecom industry’s NXTComm show last week in Las Vegas. It’s been getting a lot of play in trade publications. Attendees to the show were asked a number of questions, including whether they thought the Internet could ever “break” due to increasing traffic levels. The study was conducted by network equipment provider Tellabs and the research firm IDC:


Respondents didn’t “break” one way or the other — half said yes, and half said no. But if you look at the answers to another question in the survey, 80% said carriers are already doing things to control the strain on their networks during traffic spikes. This is very interesting to me, and some of these activities — metering service, packet inspection, slowing down traffic during peak hours — have been very much in the news lately. Apparently there is a lack of confidence that current network capacity can support the supposedly “unlimited” packages many of the providers are selling to consumers.

As some readers will know broadband is a recurring theme of this blog. While tracking the issue I’ve gotten to know Drew Clark, who started the organization BroadbandCensus.com to get a clearer picture of broadband availability in this country. I asked him what he thought of this new survey:

“Whether or not new bandwidth demands on the Internet cause carriers to offer tiered pricing or to throttle particular applications or protocols, independent monitoring will be crucial,” Drew said. “The core purpose of BroadbandCensus.com is to provide bandwidth consumers, both individuals and businesses, with a place to find local information about broadband availability, competition, speeds, prices and quality of service.”

Drew also suggested I read a recent post of his regarding broadband metering, which can be found here: http://broadbandcensus.com/blog/?p=12

Marc Hausman, a colleague of mine at Strategic Communications Group shared a great saying with me a few years back. People show you what they think not by what they say, but by how they spend their time and their money. Providers seem to be spending a lot of time and money on the issue of rapidly rising Internet traffic. Time as represented by coming up with preventative measures like those described above, and money spent for upgrades to their networks.

I’ve blogged previously my belief that all parties will need to be involved to improve broadband in this country. The transparency Drew is seeking is an important piece of any solution and if you haven’t already, take the census that is located on his site.

The government can help by supporting more transparency around availability, and streamlining and increasing economic incentives for broadband providers. Providers need to be very open on ways they are trying to control traffic spikes, and stick to throughput promises made to consumers. Content providers need to remember they have built lucrative businesses that depend on reliable connectivity, and should work with carriers for mutual success.

Working together sound too simplistic? That’s what Google and Sprint are doing (along with Intel, Time Warner and others), collaborating to support WIMAX development and deployment under the Clearwire brand. If Clearwire is successful, that will put pressure on the mobile networks of other carriers to get faster, and so on, and so on…

  4 Responses to “Will the Internet Break Under Peak Load?”

  1. Chris,

    Thanks for the great post. I’ve cross posted about your survey at BroadbandCensus.com, and invited your readers to join our quest for greater transparency in broadband availability, competition, speeds and prices by Taking the Broadband Census!

    Drew Clark

  2. […] Will the Internet Break Under Peak Load? � Work, Wine and Wheels […]

  3. Technolgy will continue to move forward and this will never be an issue we will have to deal with.

  4. Thanks for the comment Mike. I hope you’re right. But some carriers are implementing monthly caps, and talking about moving to metered pricing. So it does seem to be an issue the industry is struggling with right now.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>