Wasted Bandwidth?

Last weekend I was deleting a bunch of old Podcasts off the computer & realized I had downloaded hundreds of megabytes of data without ever doing anything with it.  I had never considered Internet bandwidth as a finite resource but, like water, it really is.

Think about how many SPAM emails are never opened.  How many tabs on your browser are  currently not in view (and receiving advertisements).  Streaming audio from an Internet radio station thats playing to an empty room.  This can all add up really fast & it’s really no different than leaving the faucet on and letting the water go down the drain (it’s just not tangible).

With the increasing popularity of NetFlix, and other streaming media services, comes an even bigger demand on available bandwidth.  Can the existing infrastructure hold up much longer given the increasing demand from consumers?

It was not that long ago when people accessed the Internet over a dial-up modem.  Remember when 56Kbps came out?  Then DSL and Cable modems slowly became available with ~3Mb connections (goodbye dial-up!).  Now, in many areas, 20+Mb connections are standard. I get ~18Mb for less than I was paying for 3Mb 5 years ago.

At some point the bandwidth is not going to matter.  The latency and over subscription of the network is going to bring everything to its knees.  Networks are a lot like highways.  The number of lanes controls your “bandwidth” & the speed limit is you “latency”.  You can add all the lanes you want. If you don’t increase the speed limit you’re not going to get there any faster.  The Internet Traffic Report gives a great overview of where things are slowing down (or offline all together) and the current trending of network speeds.

As we all continue to try & be “Green” to Save the Planet, I wonder if we’re going to end up having to do something similar in the near future to Save the Internet…