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 Â— 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?”