Nemertes Research has released a report on the future of the Internet infrastructure. The key finding from the report is that bandwidth demands are exceeding infrastructure investment, especially at the access layer. We noted in the project that users may begin to see the impact of degraded application performance as early as 2010. We also noted that the planned investments in Internet infrastructure are insufficient to meet growing demand.
From the executive summary:
Our findings indicate that although core fiber and switching/routing resources will scale nicely to support virtually any conceivable user demand, Internet access infrastructure, specifically in North America, will likely cease to be adequate for supporting demand within the next three to five years. We estimate the financial investment required by access providers to "bridge the gap" between demand and capacity ranges from $42 billion to $55 billion, or roughly 60%-70% more than service providers currently plan to invest.
It's important to stress that failing to make that investment will not cause the Internet to collapse. Instead, the primary impact of the lack of investment will be to throttle innovation-both the technical innovation that leads to increasingly newer and better applications, and the business innovation that relies on those technical innovations and applications to generate value. The next Google, YouTube, or Amazon might not arise, not because of a lack of demand, but due to an inability to fulfill that demand. Rather like osteoporosis, the underinvestment in infrastructure will painlessly and invisibly leach competitiveness out of the economy.
The report is freely available for download (registration is required).
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