Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Bandwidth crunch: myth or real threat? 1

Is bandwidth crunch (or bandwidth crisis) a real treath or just a myth?

Let's have a look backward.

10 december 1998: CNN says "Study sees bandwidth crunch in 1999"

March 2002: The expression "bandwidth crunch" starts to get in common language, step by step, because it's included (as a name of a subchapter) in the sixth edition of the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Report.

14 august 2007: ABI research says "Cable bandwidth crisis approaching" and this article led to a huge wave of other articles talking about scary bandwidth crunch. Many articles quoted this part of the article:

Vice president and research director Stan Schatt: “The increasing bandwidth demands on cable operators will soon reach crisis stage, yet this is a ‘dirty little industry secret’ that no one talks about.”

But they didn't quote another part saying:

Some of the solutions noted in the study — such as rate shaping and expanding spectrum beyond 750 MHz — have already been undertaken by some cable operators (particularly in the United States). However, a number of other solutions will come into play during the 2007-2012 forecast period, including spectrum upgrades coupled with node-splitting, switched digital video, PON overlay, MPEG-4 compression, and home gateway bandwidth management solutions.

16 february 2010: Economic Times (english language indian newspaper) wrote: "Blackberry maker RIM warns of bandwisth crisis" and, again, another huge wave of articles in the web talking about bandwidth crisis. The most quoted words were:

Lazaridis [co-CEO of RIM] said: "If we don't start conserving that bandwidth, in the next few years we are going to run into a capacity crunch. You are already experiencing the capacity crunch in the United States."

This article (27 dec 2007) of Techdirt (US technology blog) has an interesting point of view:

the "threat" of a bandwidth crunch is pretty much a myth. We're not running out of bandwidth, and the ongoing upgrades to the network should be able to handle whatever growth comes along. There's no reason to panic... yet, that's not the message that the telcos want you to hear. After all, it's in their interest to work up fears of internet capacity problems so that politicians will pass legislation providing them with subsidies or other unnecessary benefits.

11 years and 2 months after the CNN article, we haven't had any bandwidth crunchc, we've had bandwidth expansion.

The best thing is to ask the Internet Exchange Points and i started asking the AMS-IX (Amesterdam Internet Exchange)

1) a ABI research in august 2007 (quoted by many sites afterwards) said: “The increasing bandwidth demands on cable operators will soon reach crisis stage, yet this is a ‘dirty little industry secret’ that no one talks about.”
Similar thing was said in february 2010 by RIM co-CEO.
What does AMS-IX think about it? Is a "bandwidth crunch" a real threat?

Whether a bandwidth crunch is to be considered a real threat probably depends on what part of the world you are talking about. The Netherlands and most of Western Europe, home base of the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, do not cope with serious capacity problems.

2) Worst case scenario: a terrorist wants to hit the AMS-IX: if he succeded, what would happen to connection in Netherlands?

The Amsterdam Internet Exchange is a so-called distributed exchange and is currently present in 7 separate co-locations throughout Amsterdam. Our office is situated in the centre of Amsterdam separate from these locations. All our co-locations are professional datacenters equipped with high security standards and extensive backup facilities for power and cooling. There is no "one" AMS-IX location. Recent studies have shown that most of our members are connected to more than one Internet Exchange, have several private interconnects and buy transit from different providers. In the most unlikely event that someone would succeed to disrupt our service by targeting all of our seven locations at once, the Internet traffic will be rerouted over other exchanges, private interconnects and or carriers.

3) What's the percentage of growth that AMS-IX can handle (in the near future) ?

AMS-IX has always been a frontrunner concerning traffic load capacity and creating enough capacity for future traffic growth. Right now our theoretical capacity exceeds the actual traffic that flows over our Exchange by several times. Our current traffic load is just under a terabit while our platform is able to handle 4 x 1.2 terabit and is equipped with the possibility to scale up and be able to handle 8 x 1.2 terabit.

4) Does AMS-IX think that the present infrastructure (generally, in the world) is suitable for IP-TV?

It is hard for us say anything about subject, certainly worldwide. AMS-IX does not look into applications. We work with IP traffic in general and for that we see no serious capacity problems in the Netherlands or for Western Europe.

5) Is AMS-IX profit or non profit organization?

AMS-IX is a not for profit organization. We have an association and a company. The association owns the company, which operates on a not-for-profit basis. AMS-IX pricing is simple and straightforward. It's just a simple portfee, no additional membership fees or install charges. Prices are defined on cost-basis including planned investments for platform extensions and upgrades to secure business continuity.

(Thanks to Anna Kocks of AMS-IX for accepting the interview)

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