There are two recent news items which should be of interest to internet users. The first is a study which had the following conclusions.
We conclude that the evidence is good that demand for Internet and IP services is increasing exponentially, while access investment is proceeding linearly. An exponential curve will always intersect a linear one given enough time, and we believe there’s reasonably compelling evidence that the intersection will happen within the next five years, possibly as early as 2010.
The impact of inadequate access infrastructure is likely to be relatively mild when it comes to the experiences of individual users, who will increasingly find themselves encountering Internet brownouts or snow days, during which performance will (seemingly inexplicably) degrade. But overall, we believe this lack of impact of this inadequate infrastructure will be to slow down the pace of both technical and business innovation. 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.
However, we do not believe these problems are insolvable, given the quality of engineering talent employed by these content and service provider firms. And, we further believe that closing the data gap would yield immeasurable benefits to the industry as a whole, and provide the necessary platform upon which the policy decisions above” and a host of others” could be based.
So, the single actionable recommendation resulting from this study is a plea for service and content providers to cooperate with researchers in sharing data. We think the future of the Internet depends on it.
Also, Time Warner has begun an experiment in which internet users are not charged a flat fee, but are rather billed according to the amount of their usage and bandwith. In other words, download a lot of music and video and you’ll pay more.