Friday, February 23, 2007

No Information Super Traffic Jam? 

Two weeks ago I had a post about Deloitte & Touche predicting that global traffic will exceed the Internet's capacity end of this year, mainly caused by video traffic.

Now Network World is stating: Don't expect video to exhaust the fiber glut.

“In long haul, there is still plenty of fiber,” says Andrew Odlyzko, director of the Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota. “If you look at the total Internet traffic in the U.S., it could be squeezed down one or at most two fiber strands. And on most routes you have hundreds of strands.”


Insight Research did a study back in 2001 of fiber utilization among 13 major long-haul carriers. Data was culled from fiber pairs in 24 major cities.Only 7% to 8% of the total capacity was used, and of that only 3% to 4% was actually lit, says Robert Rosenberg, president of Insight Research. Historically, utilization has been more like 30% to 40%, he says.

Couple with that the slowing growth of Internet traffic. Even though the rate of video growth has been increasing – Level 3 says 50% to 60% of the traffic across its IP backbone is video, compared with 5% to 10% five years ago – the overall growth of traffic on the Internet has slowed to 50% per year from 100% or more in the heady days of the bubble.

“Back in those days, everybody was putting in as much as they could and it made sense,” says Clif Holliday, an analyst with Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI). “There’s probably an awful lot of excess fiber in the ground.”

So the bottleneck is still in the access, but also this is improving with fiber-to-the-home.

Last week Siemens transmitted 10 Gigabit/second over a passive optical network. And the last mile was 100 kilometers.

This should be sufficent for HDTV.

The observation that there is unused fiber assumes that it is essentially free to light that capacity; and on that front people tend to look at the cost of the incremental transponder(s) and not the end to end total costs.

On balance the bottleneck is access, but it is misleading to simply observe unlit fiber - which is potential capacity only, and not actual capacity.

Above comments should not in any way be viewed as an endorsement of the referenced report.
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