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October 18, 2010

“Capacity crunch” will hit UK broadband soon

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by Darren Allan

A researcher at the university of Southampton has painted a worrying picture of the future of broadband in the UK.

David Richardson wrote a paper for the journal Science in which he discussed an upcoming “capacity crunch” which could severely hamper the future of the net in this country.

With the increasing spread of broadband, and a greater amount of bandwidth intensive activities such as streaming movies, Richardson reckons we’re already at half the “ultimate capacity” of our existing fibre infrastructure. As more people get online, using more and more bandwidth, there will come a point when the strain begins to tell, and this will have major social ramifications.

Richardson writes: “Without radical innovation in our physical network infrastructure – that is, improvements in the key physical properties of transmission fibers and the optical amplifiers that we rely on to transmit data over long distances – we face what has been widely referred to as a ‘capacity crunch’ that could severely constrain future Internet growth.”

TechRadar states that Virgin Media has previously warned of a looming broadband crisis, although BT and Sky weren’t having any of it.

Richardson told the BBC: “It’s likely we’re going to have to go right back to the fundamentals of the optics, the actual light pipes. And if you want to develop the next generation of cable, you want to be doing that 10 years in advance, not for tomorrow.”

First the credit crunch, now the capacity crunch, with all these crunches the world’s experiencing, Mother Earth should at least be in pretty good shape around the equator.

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