Cisco recently released a report predicting massive growth in Internet video traffic over the next several years. Arguably the most provocative prediction made therein states that "global IP traffic will quintuple from 2008 to 2013."
The Internet, to borrow a line from Douglas Adams, is big. Really big. So an estimated 400% growth in its traffic in just five years is more than mild conjecture. The report goes on to assert that "Internet video is now approximately one-third of all consumer Internet traffic, not including the amount of video exchanged through P2P file sharing," which seems unlikely. Then again, when you consider the sheer infeasibility of accurately arriving at these numbers in the first place, any credibility of the report instantly deteriorates into that of a marketing brochure anyway.
Which isn't to say huge growth shouldn't be expected and welcomed; indeed, most experts agree that this Internet thing is here to stay. However, reports like this one, for all their abstract arithmetic, fail to address the ominous creep of artificial throughput limitations quietly (and not so quietly) being implemented by Internet service providers around the world.
Bandwidth caps have long been a burden of life in countries such as Australia and the UK, one which is slowly spreading to broadband subscribers across North America. Last year, Comcast announced an official 250 GB transfer limit amid much controversy regarding their definition of "acceptable use." Several Canadian ISPs have recently had their bandwidth throttling practices called into question. And of course there's the utter nonsense undertaken by Time Warner.
With such miserly tendencies becoming the norm, Internet growth is sure to fall far short of Cisco's predictions. The question now is whether pressure from network vendors and content providers will be enough to reverse the course undertaken by so many ISPs. There is no denying that the technology to support such increases in throughput is available, but can service providers be convinced to adopt it?
UPDATE: BT leadership apparently doesn't understand how the Internet works. But we're to believe that the business strategies at work here are top notch and residential transfer caps are simply a fact of life? Right.