Apakah benar 2011 adalah the end of the internet? Apakah benar internet akan ambruk dalam beberapa tahun mendatang? Hal ini yang jadi kegelisahan pakar internet di dunia. Akhir November 2007 lalu muncul penelitian bahwa internet akan mengalami outpace network capacity pada 2011.
Sumber 1. STEVE LOHR
NEW YORK: Caution: Heavy Internet traffic ahead. Delays possible.
For months there has been a rising chorus of alarm about the surging growth in the amount of data flying across the Internet. The threat, according to some industry groups, analysts and researchers, stems mainly from the increasing visual richness of online communications and entertainment video clips and movies, social networks and multiplayer games.
Moving images, far more than words or sounds, are hefty rivers of digital bits passing through the Internet’s pipes and gateways, requiring, in industry parlance, more bandwidth. Last year, by one estimate, the video site YouTube, owned by Google, consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet did in 2000.
In a widely cited report published last November, a research firm projected that user demand for the Internet could outpace network capacity by 2011. The title of a debate scheduled next month at a technology conference in Boston sums up the angst: “The End of the Internet?”
But the Internet traffic surge represents more a looming challenge than an impending catastrophe. Even those most concerned are not predicting a lights-out Internet crash. An individual user, they say, would experience Internet clogging in the form of sluggish download speeds and frustration with data-heavy services that become much less useful or enjoyable.
“The Internet doesn’t collapse, but there would be a growing class of stuff you just can’t do online,” said Johna Till Johnson, president of Nemertes Research, which predicted the bandwidth crunch by 2011, anticipating demand growth of 100 percent or more a year.
Others are less worried, at least in the short term. Andrew Odlyzko, a professor at the University of Minnesota, estimates that digital traffic on the global network is growing about 50 percent a year, in line with a recent analysis by Cisco Systems, the big network equipment maker.
That sounds like a daunting rate of growth. Yet the technology for handling Internet traffic is advancing at an impressive pace as well.
The router computers for relaying data get faster, fiber-optic transmission gets better and software for juggling data packets gets smarter.
“The 50 percent growth is high. It’s huge, but it basically corresponds to the improvements that technology is giving us,” said Odlyzko, a former AT&T Labs researcher. Demand is not likely to overwhelm the Internet, he said.
In the United States, the question of the problem’s severity is more than a technical one, since it will affect the shape and cost of the government policies on broadband infrastructure, which is expected to attract political attention after a new U.S. administration takes over in Washington.
While experts debate the immediacy of the challenge, they agree that it points to a larger issue. In the Internet era, they say, high-speed networks are increasingly the economic and scientific petri dishes of innovation, spawning new businesses, markets and jobs. A nation whose investment lags, they warn, risks losing competitiveness to countries that are making the move to higher-speed Internet access a priority.
“The long-term issue is where innovation happens,” Odlyzko said. “Where will the next Google, YouTube, eBay or Amazon come from?”
The Internet, though a global network, is in many ways surprisingly local. It is a vast amalgam of smaller networks, all linked together.
The worries about digital traffic congestion are not really about the Internet’s main trunk lines, the equivalent of network superhighways. Instead, the problem is close to home the capacity of neighborhood switches, routers and pipes into a house. The cost of stringing high-speed optical fiber to a home, analysts estimate, can be $1,000 or more.
That is why Internet access speeds vary so much country by country. They depend on local patterns of corporate investment and government subsidy. Frederick Baker, a research fellow at Cisco, was attending a professional conference last month in Taiwan, where Internet access is more than twice as fast and costs far less than his premium “high speed” service in California.
“When I mention my own service, people here shake their heads in disbelief,” said Baker, who is a board member of the Internet Society, a nonprofit organization that helps guide Internet standards and policy.
In the United States, the investment required to cope with rising Internet traffic will need to be made at several levels, not just cable and telecommunications carriers. Tim Pozar, an engineer and a co-owner of the Internet services company UnitedLayer in San Francisco, said a number of forces were combining: the surge in bandwidth-hungry video applications on Web sites, the need to handle traffic from more Internet-enabled devices like cell phones and shortages of electrical power for data centers in places like San Francisco.
“We’re running out of horsepower to accommodate the demand,” said Pozar, whose company’s data centers support Web sites for customers ranging from museums to social networks. “And upgrades needed in data centers are going to be a lot more expensive than in the past, now that all the excess capacity left over after the dot-com bubble burst has been gobbled up.”
The pace of future demand is the big uncertainty surrounding the Internet traffic challenge, and the speed with which people will adopt emerging technologies is notoriously difficult to foresee.
After the bursting of the technology bubble in 2000, there was a glut of capacity so-called dark fiber, strung around the world and then left dormant. Now demand is catching up with that supply. In its prediction of more than 100 percent annual growth, Nemertes, a telecommunications research firm, assumes brisk use of new innovations like high-end video conferencing, known as telepresence, which corporations are beginning to embrace as an alternative to costly, time-consuming travel.
If this technology becomes a consumer product in the next few years, as some analysts predict, Internet traffic could spike even more sharply.
Slick video chats are something that William Bentley, a 13-year-old New Yorker, would like to see. He is fairly representative of the next generation of digital consumer: He has made and posted his own YouTube videos, subscribes to YouTube channels, enjoys multiplayer games like “World of Warcraft” and “Unreal Tournament,” and downloads music and videos.
Asked what he would want next from the Internet, he replied, “It would be nice to have everybody always right there just click and you could see them clearly and talk to them.”
That sort of service is certainly going to require more bandwidth and more investment, with higher costs across the spectrum of the Internet ecosystem that includes cable and telecommunications carriers, Internet companies, media Web sites and even consumers.
AT&T, for one, said last week said it would spend $1 billion this year twice its 2006 expenditures to expand its overseas infrastructure.
But even if investment lags, there will be no Internet blackout. Indeed, the Internet has survived predictions of collapse in the past, most notably by Robert Metcalfe, a networking pioneer and entrepreneur, who in a 1995 magazine column warned of a “catastrophic collapse” of the Internet in 1996. There were service problems, but nothing like the collapse Metcalfe predicted, and on stage at a conference in 1997 he ate his words or at least the paper on which they were printed.
“The Internet has proven to be wonderfully resilient,” said Metcalfe, who is now a venture capitalist. “But the Internet is vulnerable today. It’s not that it will collapse, but that opportunities will be lost.”
Sumber 2. DAVID SMITH
Video boom threatens to gridlock the internet
Online video and streaming TV are draining the internet’s capacity and clogging its copper arteries. David Smith, Technology Correspondent, reports on an impending global snarl-up on the information superhighway
They are calling it the broadband crunch. Experts have warned that the amount of data travelling across the internet is growing so fast that the network could become overloaded and grind to a virtual standstill.
Online video is the biggest drain on the capacity of copper wires that were originally intended to carry only voice calls. But demand for YouTube, the BBC’s iPlayer and other data-hungry internet TV services is surging. Last year it was claimed that YouTube consumed as much bandwidth in a year as the entire internet took up in 2000.
The prospect of the web’s arteries clogging is to be the subject of a debate, ‘The End of the Internet?’, at a technology conference in Boston this month while the industry trade press has published apocalyptic headlines: ‘Is the internet doomed?’ and ‘Internet might collapse in 2010’. The worst-case scenario is not so much a crash as a global gridlock in which email, social networks and everything else on the internet slows to a crawl, with potentially devastating consequences for both government and business.
‘Our streets in cities like London or New York were designed for a certain amount of traffic,’ said Larry Irving, co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, an industry group lobbying for universal broadband. ‘There are times of the day when you can get around and times when there is congestion because the roads were not made big enough to cope with so much traffic. London does not shut down, it carries on, but everything slows down. The internet is something like that.’
Roads are a useful way to imagine the internet, essentially an amalgam of privately built and owned interconnecting networks, all the more robust for not having a physical ‘centre’. The quantity of data speeding up and down this network is hard to measure, but everyone agrees it is getting bigger by the day. According to Irving, estimates show US internet traffic increasing at more than 50 per cent a year, with capacity expanding at only about 40 per cent a year. The craze for video clips and full-length movies on the web comes at a price: a one-hour film can eat up one gigabyte, a hundred times more than an MP3 music file of around 10 megabytes. The traffic runs both ways because consumers, especially younger users, are keen to upload their own videos or share files through peer-to-peer networks, all of which adds to the strain.
‘Four million people are watching a Barack Obama video on the internet,’ said Irving, who was Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton. ‘Twenty-six million people watched Desperate Housewives over a six-month period. The American version of The Office got seven million viewers on TV and 2.7m online. We’re watching a slow but inexorable increase in the amount of time people are spending on online video. Whatever the number is today, that’s the lowest it will ever be.’
Bill Thompson, a technology commentator and visiting lecturer at City University, London, said: ‘I think we’re in trouble. If you’ve got kids on YouTube and parents on iPlayer and other things going on, it all starts to go very slow.’
Some – but not all – analysts say that the problem is not in transmitting data from one city to another, or even from one side of the world to another, because these fibre and underground cable ‘motorways’ have huge capacity and are continuously gaining efficiency from new technology. Instead the biggest risk of a bottleneck is in the local ‘country lanes’: in the routers, switches and copper wires running from an exchange into the home over ‘the last mile’.
Scott Bradner, technology security officer at Harvard University, who is taking part in the ‘End of the Internet?’ debate, said: ‘There are going to be some real crunches, some real hard times coming. It’s because of the market and the business models which don’t see a way of making a profit.’
On both sides of the Atlantic there are complaints that a potential crunch is much less to do with technology than market economics. Internet service providers in Britain have been criticised for striving so hard to undercut each other on price that they are failing to invest in the infrastructure necessary to keep up with demand. Although BT is spending £10bn on one of its biggest upgrades, turning its old networks into a single ’21st-century network’ launching at the end of this month, it will not address the issue of the ‘last mile’ copper into the home. Replacing this with high-speed fibre optics would cost an estimated £20bn. Thompson believes that, because such investment is against short-term commercial interests, the government should intervene to provide fibre to the home in the spirit of a public utility.
Anthony Walker, chief executive of Britain’s Broadband Stakeholder Group, said: ‘There are big investment challenges ahead. Replacing copper with fibre optic, taking it closer to the consumer, we’re talking about billions of pounds over almost a decade. It’s some way off but it’s being talked about. It may mean there are new, faster, high-capacity services that consumers are willing to pay for. I don’t think there’s any cause to panic, but at the same time we shouldn’t be complacent.’
Mike Bartlett, a spokesman for BT, said: ‘There will not be a fibre-to-the-home network in the next 20 years. It would be a massive call to say, “Let’s fibre up the nation.” It would take many years, cost billions of pounds, involve digging up all the roads and we don’t know if people really want it. As a public company we can’t go to our shareholders and say we need to spend the equivalent of our market cap value on this. But we are very much committed to providing fibre at the new housing at Ebbsfleet Valley [in Kent] from August, which will be a really useful test bed for the whole industry.’
An independent study on Britain’s broadband infrastructure led by Francisco Caio, the former chief executive of Cable & Wireless, is due to report to the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, in the autumn. It is unlikely to find a solution which would allow Britain to catch up with Japan, which has the world’s fastest connections, delivering more data at a lower price than any other country. The technology has enabled broadcast-quality full-screen TV, high-definition teleconferencing, mass working from home, and ‘telemedicine’ in which doctors can diagnose conditions from far away. Japan benefits from new wiring installed in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Not even pessimists believe the internet will crash and burn. An overload is likely to result in consequences that are sluggish rather than spectacular. Irving observed: ‘We’re not saying it’s going meltdown, but you could have latency. It’ll be like trying to get from point A to point B in London on a Wednesday afternoon. Good luck.’