March Madness or Bandwidth Madness?
By, Jeff Horn – LA Office Intern
There is an amazing amount of content available on the Web, with videos and music being the biggest bandwidth hogs of them all. But there could be a potential third “hog” to step on the scene soon, and that is the online application.
Right now Google has a whole suite of “Microsoft Office” like applications that are free to use through their online “Google Docs” service. These apps aren’t data intensive right now, but in five years online applications could be developed for things like video editing and music production; both of which would be incredible bandwidth hogs.
According to Nielsen’s Law, our bandwidth will grow at a rate of 50% annually. This means that 5 years from now, our Internet speeds could potentially break 100mbps. Time will tell if the rate of growth will be fast enough to keep up with data usage by online applications and services such as, on-demand TV and High-Def movie downloads. We are quickly becoming a society of “now” we see something we want and we expect it right away. Especially as computer processor speeds are growing faster than our Internet and network speeds (see Moore’s Law).
Will bandwidth be able to keep up with such high demand for data intensive content transfers?
Currently, networks are upgrading as normal, so essentially nothing really is being done. There are things in the works, like Verizon’s FiOS and cable’s DOCSIS 3.0, to push fiber optic cables nationwide or upgrade upload rates to at least 100mbps. But unless the infrastructures can meet our demand for content, we’ll only continue to see the averagely slow growth.
The San Jose Mercury recently ran a story about companies limiting access to Web sites like CBS Sports that are streaming live video of NCAA basketball games. The companies were afraid that the excessive use of bandwidth could cripple there online infrastructure.
These types of fears could lead to a stifling of online innovations. If companies limit access to content then the content providers could potentially cut back on the quality of the content they provide.