February 26, 2007

“The Sky Is Falling” [8:19 am]

Videos have Net bursting at the seams - pdf

Those amusing YouTube video clips that Internet users send to friends gobble up large chunks of bandwidth and may cause the Net to crash, some elements of the telecom industry warn.

It’s an admonition many dismiss as political posturing intended to dissuade lawmakers from restricting the freedom of phone companies to manage Internet traffic as they wish.

[...] A recent report from Deloitte Consulting raised the possibility that 2007 would see Internet demand exceed capacity. Worldwide, more users every day join the 1 billion people who now use the Internet. Popularity of bandwidth-hungry video makes far greater demands on the network than more basic applications like e-mail, Web browsing or even voice over the Internet.

[...] The Deloitte report, along with comments earlier this month by a Google executive at a technology conference in Amsterdam about Web capacity problems, have been cited as examples why telecom companies shouldn’t face new regulations.

[...] Walter McCormick Jr., chief of US Telecom, the trade group representing dominant phone companies, wrote to lawmakers arguing that the need to manage capacity would be impeded if “network neutrality” legislation passes.

Backed by several consumer groups as well as large Internet enterprises such as Google, network neutrality legislation forbids phone companies from managing the network to favor one Internet user’s content over another’s.

Network managers need flexibility in order to provide needed capacity as demand grows, McCormick contends.

That logic is tortured at best, said Andrew Odlyzko, director of the University of Minnesota’s digital technology center.

“It’s posturing for political reasons,” said Odlyzko. “The telecom industry opposes network neutrality and uses any pretext to fight it.”

[...] Telecom executives focus on possible broadband capacity shortfalls because of their heritage, said David Isenberg, an independent industry analyst who once worked for the Bell System.

“They want to manage the Internet as a scarce resource,” Isenberg said. “Internet executives want to manage it as an abundant resource. It’s a basic philosophical difference.”

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