Ready For The Exabyte Deluge?


We are always fans of big numbers. Way back in 1995 we heard that Bob Metcalfe (inventor of ethernet networking) predicted that the flood of data on the Internet, at the time, would bring it to its knees in 1996 or he would eat his article. We later read he munched up the article in front of an industry conference in 1997—a man who lives by his word. We’ve always been interested in the growth of internet data, predictions of its demise and the crow-eaters who predict.

A recent article published in The Economist again goes at this topic. Its a reasonably well balanced article that should be read by anyone interested in the growth of the internet and communications in general.

Real internet load

If one looks at the relative load on the internet we’ve seen that predictions of its demise fall far from the mark due to many circumstance. Primarily the rapid expansion of the carrying capacity of existing infrastructure. In our files we hold a paper copy of a 1980 Bell Standard Practice (BSP for those old enough to remember it) which declares that the highest speed a modem would ever reach was 1,200 baud. This is kept to remind us of the reality of technological improvements.

Capacity

An old telecom whiz once opined that fiber would be proven to exceed Moore’s Law. We think he was right, but cannot find facts to back that up. In any event fiber capacity has been growing in leaps and bounds since its introduction in the 1970’s and, while there is probably some theoretical limit to its capacity, its not on our current horizon.

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