Sci & Tech

'Internet Rationing' Not Needed

'Internet Rationing' Not Needed
'Internet Rationing' Not Needed

The internet will not need to be rationed in the future because of a ‘data capacity crunch’, according to a leading scientist from British telecoms giant BT, Press Association reported on Tuesday.

Professor Andrew Lord, who leads optical research at BT, said that while the firm is seeing “exponential growth” in internet use, tests and research the company has done show the current infrastructure can deal with the demand.

He was speaking at the opening of a Royal Society discussion on the internet called “Communication networks beyond the capacity crunch”, where the increase in data use and its impact are being discussed by leading scientists.

It comes after one of the meeting’s organizers, Professor Andrew Ellis, an expert in optical communications at Aston University, said that at the rate consumers are using the web, existing cables will reach their data capacity limit by the end of the decade, leading to a “potentially disastrous capacity crunch”, and the possible need to ration internet use.

“Since we had the first modem, the capacity people have been able to achieve has been growing exponentially, doubling every two years,” he said.

“We can’t get much more capacity in one fibre, and there have been signs of slowing since 2010. If we want to continue to have better communication, we’re going to have to install more capacity. It is likely there will be some sort of demand management. One way is rationing and another way is charging or taxation of service providers.”

However, Prof Lord said that BT has run tests that show its network can currently handle the entire internet in the UK on a single fibre.

“What the internet can cope with we’ve already been able to put into a single carrier, so it’s going well; it’s up to speed with what’s needed at the moment.

“I don’t see a crisis in the internet - I don’t see a crunch coming. I can see that if you go to the extreme numbers you can break it, but of course you can always do that. You just have to wait long enough for it to break.”

Prof Lord also suggested that as demand and traffic increased, solutions would be created by content providers.