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Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Monday, January 7, 2008

More on massive new investment required for Internet

[Scott Bradner makes some important additional comments on the Nemertes Research report in his regular column in Network World-- BSA]

Internet overload: painting tomorrow something like today Nemertes Research report on a future clogged Internet may not tell whole story

The report does not pull a Metcalfe and predict an Internet collapse. It does, however, say that the Internet broadband-access networks will not keep up with future demand and, thus, users will be slowed. It does not mention that many broadband Internet subscribers are seeing slowdowns today because of the low speed and oversubscribing of current access networks.

My second-biggest problem with the report is that it fails to take into account the wide differences in Internet-access speed and cost across the world. The average download speed in the United States is less than 2Mpbs compared with more than 60Mbps in Japan. The report fails to point out that the United States’ definition of broadband is one of the slowest and most expensive to be found in the major industrialized countries in terms of dollars per Mbps -- more than ten times as expensive as in Japan and even more expensive than in Portugal. It calls for spending a lot more money on access infrastructure over the next few years, but does not hint at how it might be paid for. Already U.S. broadband Internet service is too expensive for a lot of people, and the Nemertes report does not factor that into its projected growth in users and demand.

My biggest problem with the report, however, is that its authors seem to think that the only possible Internet-access future comes from the traditional telecommunications carriers. It ignores (or at least I could not find any mention of these) non-carrier solutions, such as muni or neighborhood Wi-Fi, and mentions Google’s potential entry into the wireless-access business only in passing.