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The Coming Exaflood: Will the ISPs Lead or Follow?

"From YouTube, IPTV, and high-definition images, to "cloud computing" and ubiquitous mobile cameras-to 3D games, virtual worlds, and photorealistic telepresence-the new wave is swelling into an exaflood of Internet and IP traffic.... We estimate that by 2015, U.S. IP traffic could reach an annual total of one zettabyte....." These statements are part of the Discovery Institute report, "Estimating the Exaflood: The Impact of Video and Rich Media on the Internet, A "zettabyte" by 2015?" By Bret Swanson and George Gilder January 2008, . The report goes on to predict that the US Internet, not the world Internet, will be 50 or more times larger than it was two years ago, 2006.

"From YouTube, IPTV, and high-definition images, to "cloud computing" and ubiquitous mobile cameras-to 3D games, virtual worlds, and photorealistic telepresence-the new wave is swelling into an exaflood of Internet and IP traffic.... We estimate that by 2015, U.S. IP traffic could reach an annual total of one zettabyte....."

These statements are part of the Discovery Institute report, "Estimating the Exaflood: The Impact of Video and Rich Media on the Internet, A "zettabyte" by 2015?" By Bret Swanson and George Gilder January 2008, . The report goes on to predict that the US Internet, not the world Internet, will be 50 or more times larger than it was two years ago, 2006.The report continues:

Today it is happening. We estimate that in the U.S. by 2015:

  • movie downloads and P2P file sharing could be 100 exabytes
  • video calling and virtual windows could generate 400 exabytes
  • "cloud" computing and remote backup could total 50 exabytes
  • Internet video, gaming, and virtual worlds could produce 200 exabytes
  • non-Internet "IPTV" could reach 100 exabytes, and possibly much more
  • business IP traffic will generate some 100 exabytes
  • other applications (phone, Web, e-mail, photos, music) could be 50 exabytes
  • So what is an exa or zetta? A gigabyte is 1,000,000,000 (i.e., 1 billion). An exabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000, or 1 quadrillion. So a zettabyte is 1,000 times an exa. Even the national debt does not get this big.

    I first encountered the Internet when it was operated by colleges, universities and the National Science Foundation (NSF). It supported education and research. Then as more commercial traffic entered the Internet in the 1990s, it became available to the masses with browsers, e-mail and the World Wide Web. We are now in the third phase with video over the Internet just beginning to become really popular. The social and commercial implications of the addition of video are yet to be fully explored. This is where the traffic growth will move into the Exabyte sphere.

    The Discovery Institute report also believes

    This Exaflood is coming. However, it will only be possible with a vast new infrastructure to match the vastness of the coming digital deluge. Building this new infrastructure will be very expensive, likely requiring some $137 billion in global new investment over the next two years alone and at least $50 billion in the U.S. Technology remains the key engine of U.S. economic growth and its competitive edge. Consummating a true broadband Internet will depend on smart communications law and an investment friendly economy.

    Cisco made its own projections in August 2007 in "The Exabyte Era," report. Cisco concluded that "YouTube is just the beginning. Online video will experience three waves of growth." The first wave is driven by YouTube and similar applications. The second wave, which includes IPTV, will surpass the first wave in traffic volume by 2009. The third wave, starting in 2015, is Internet Video Communication, or video calling and conferencing. Cisco predicts the annual U.S. traffic in 2011 to be more than 100 exabytes.

    This gets back to question in the title of this blog, "Will the ISPs Lead or Follow?" My recent blog, "Metering the Internet," presents the new billing approach of charging the customer by the gigabyte. This is to rein in heavy users or charge them for their heavy use, which is usually personal pictures and video and downloading movies. If you accept the comments in the Discovery Institute and Cisco reports, then there is a huge investment looming that the customers--both consumers and enterprises--will have to pay for the Internet infrastructure expansion. Where does this leave the enterprise and business traffic? While the coming exaflood saps the bandwidth of the Internet, will the ISPs make the necessary investment? Will the enterprise suffer in performance and productivity? Or will the gigabyte pricing structure slow down the potential traffic growth to a more manageable rate? Certainly, the ISPs will be charging more to finance their expansion. I think that this will retard the applications on the Internet, making all forms of Internet communications suffer both in performance and cost to the enterprise. I wonder how this will affect the green efforts to have more people work from home.

    Take a look at the following from the Discovery Institute report.

  • Movie downloads and P2P: 100 exabytes
  • Video calling and virtual windows: 400 exabytes
  • "Cloud" computing/remote backup: 50 exabytes
  • Internet video, gaming and virtual worlds: 200 exabytes
  • Non-Internet "IPTV": 100 exabytes++
  • Business IP traffic: 100 exabytes
  • Other(phone, Web, e-mail, photos, music): 50 Exabytes TOTAL: 1,000 exabytes = 1 zettabyte

    When I looked at this chart, I realized how much smaller the business traffic will be as a percentage, 10%. Assuming that business traffic is also part of some of the other categories, 20% of the traffic may relate to business. This is definitely a minority of the traffic.

    Unless the ISPs cater to the businesses (probably with higher charges) the non-business traffic may have a detrimental performance effect on the business uses of the Internet. Anyway you look at it; the exaflood will probably create some real problems for the business user.

  • movie downloads and P2P file sharing could be 100 exabytes
  • video calling and virtual windows could generate 400 exabytes
  • "cloud" computing and remote backup could total 50 exabytes
  • Internet video, gaming, and virtual worlds could produce 200 exabytes
  • non-Internet "IPTV" could reach 100 exabytes, and possibly much more
  • business IP traffic will generate some 100 exabytes
  • other applications (phone, Web, e-mail, photos, music) could be 50 exabytes

    So what is an exa or zetta? A gigabyte is 1,000,000,000 (i.e., 1 billion). An exabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000, or 1 quadrillion. So a zettabyte is 1,000 times an exa. Even the national debt does not get this big.

    I first encountered the Internet when it was operated by colleges, universities and the National Science Foundation (NSF). It supported education and research. Then as more commercial traffic entered the Internet in the 1990s, it became available to the masses with browsers, e-mail and the World Wide Web. We are now in the third phase with video over the Internet just beginning to become really popular. The social and commercial implications of the addition of video are yet to be fully explored. This is where the traffic growth will move into the Exabyte sphere.

    The Discovery Institute report also believes

    This Exaflood is coming. However, it will only be possible with a vast new infrastructure to match the vastness of the coming digital deluge. Building this new infrastructure will be very expensive, likely requiring some $137 billion in global new investment over the next two years alone and at least $50 billion in the U.S. Technology remains the key engine of U.S. economic growth and its competitive edge. Consummating a true broadband Internet will depend on smart communications law and an investment friendly economy.

    Cisco made its own projections in August 2007 in "The Exabyte Era," report. Cisco concluded that "YouTube is just the beginning. Online video will experience three waves of growth." The first wave is driven by YouTube and similar applications. The second wave, which includes IPTV, will surpass the first wave in traffic volume by 2009. The third wave, starting in 2015, is Internet Video Communication, or video calling and conferencing. Cisco predicts the annual U.S. traffic in 2011 to be more than 100 exabytes.

    This gets back to question in the title of this blog, "Will the ISPs Lead or Follow?" My recent blog, "Metering the Internet," presents the new billing approach of charging the customer by the gigabyte. This is to rein in heavy users or charge them for their heavy use, which is usually personal pictures and video and downloading movies. If you accept the comments in the Discovery Institute and Cisco reports, then there is a huge investment looming that the customers--both consumers and enterprises--will have to pay for the Internet infrastructure expansion. Where does this leave the enterprise and business traffic? While the coming exaflood saps the bandwidth of the Internet, will the ISPs make the necessary investment? Will the enterprise suffer in performance and productivity? Or will the gigabyte pricing structure slow down the potential traffic growth to a more manageable rate? Certainly, the ISPs will be charging more to finance their expansion. I think that this will retard the applications on the Internet, making all forms of Internet communications suffer both in performance and cost to the enterprise. I wonder how this will affect the green efforts to have more people work from home.

    Take a look at the following from the Discovery Institute report.

  • Movie downloads and P2P: 100 exabytes
  • Video calling and virtual windows: 400 exabytes
  • "Cloud" computing/remote backup: 50 exabytes
  • Internet video, gaming and virtual worlds: 200 exabytes
  • Non-Internet "IPTV": 100 exabytes++
  • Business IP traffic: 100 exabytes
  • Other(phone, Web, e-mail, photos, music): 50 Exabytes TOTAL: 1,000 exabytes = 1 zettabyte

    When I looked at this chart, I realized how much smaller the business traffic will be as a percentage, 10%. Assuming that business traffic is also part of some of the other categories, 20% of the traffic may relate to business. This is definitely a minority of the traffic.

    Unless the ISPs cater to the businesses (probably with higher charges) the non-business traffic may have a detrimental performance effect on the business uses of the Internet. Anyway you look at it; the exaflood will probably create some real problems for the business user.

    So what is an exa or zetta? A gigabyte is 1,000,000,000 (i.e., 1 billion). An exabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000, or 1 quadrillion. So a zettabyte is 1,000 times an exa. Even the national debt does not get this big.

    I first encountered the Internet when it was operated by colleges, universities and the National Science Foundation (NSF). It supported education and research. Then as more commercial traffic entered the Internet in the 1990s, it became available to the masses with browsers, e-mail and the World Wide Web. We are now in the third phase with video over the Internet just beginning to become really popular. The social and commercial implications of the addition of video are yet to be fully explored. This is where the traffic growth will move into the Exabyte sphere.

    The Discovery Institute report also believes

    This Exaflood is coming. However, it will only be possible with a vast new infrastructure to match the vastness of the coming digital deluge. Building this new infrastructure will be very expensive, likely requiring some $137 billion in global new investment over the next two years alone and at least $50 billion in the U.S. Technology remains the key engine of U.S. economic growth and its competitive edge. Consummating a true broadband Internet will depend on smart communications law and an investment friendly economy.

    Cisco made its own projections in August 2007 in "The Exabyte Era," report. Cisco concluded that "YouTube is just the beginning. Online video will experience three waves of growth." The first wave is driven by YouTube and similar applications. The second wave, which includes IPTV, will surpass the first wave in traffic volume by 2009. The third wave, starting in 2015, is Internet Video Communication, or video calling and conferencing. Cisco predicts the annual U.S. traffic in 2011 to be more than 100 exabytes.

    This gets back to question in the title of this blog, "Will the ISPs Lead or Follow?" My recent blog, "Metering the Internet," presents the new billing approach of charging the customer by the gigabyte. This is to rein in heavy users or charge them for their heavy use, which is usually personal pictures and video and downloading movies. If you accept the comments in the Discovery Institute and Cisco reports, then there is a huge investment looming that the customers--both consumers and enterprises--will have to pay for the Internet infrastructure expansion. Where does this leave the enterprise and business traffic? While the coming exaflood saps the bandwidth of the Internet, will the ISPs make the necessary investment? Will the enterprise suffer in performance and productivity? Or will the gigabyte pricing structure slow down the potential traffic growth to a more manageable rate? Certainly, the ISPs will be charging more to finance their expansion. I think that this will retard the applications on the Internet, making all forms of Internet communications suffer both in performance and cost to the enterprise. I wonder how this will affect the green efforts to have more people work from home.

    Take a look at the following from the Discovery Institute report.

  • Movie downloads and P2P: 100 exabytes
  • Video calling and virtual windows: 400 exabytes
  • "Cloud" computing/remote backup: 50 exabytes
  • Internet video, gaming and virtual worlds: 200 exabytes
  • Non-Internet "IPTV": 100 exabytes++
  • Business IP traffic: 100 exabytes
  • Other(phone, Web, e-mail, photos, music): 50 Exabytes TOTAL: 1,000 exabytes = 1 zettabyte

    When I looked at this chart, I realized how much smaller the business traffic will be as a percentage, 10%. Assuming that business traffic is also part of some of the other categories, 20% of the traffic may relate to business. This is definitely a minority of the traffic.

    Unless the ISPs cater to the businesses (probably with higher charges) the non-business traffic may have a detrimental performance effect on the business uses of the Internet. Anyway you look at it; the exaflood will probably create some real problems for the business user.

    When I looked at this chart, I realized how much smaller the business traffic will be as a percentage, 10%. Assuming that business traffic is also part of some of the other categories, 20% of the traffic may relate to business. This is definitely a minority of the traffic.

    Unless the ISPs cater to the businesses (probably with higher charges) the non-business traffic may have a detrimental performance effect on the business uses of the Internet. Anyway you look at it; the exaflood will probably create some real problems for the business user.