Experts in the UK have warned that the country’s growing demand for internet, driven by surge in online video consumption, could bring the Internet closer than ever to a “capacity crunch.”
It is feared that the fiber optics cables that transmit information to our smartphones, tablets and computers will have reached their limits within the next eight years of time.
Internet use already accounts for eight per cent of Britain’s total power output. The rate is growing almost double every four years. Experts have warned that if usage rates continue to grow at the same pace, all of Britain’s power supply could be consumed by internet use within the next 20 years.
“The Internet is already consuming … [the] equivalent to the output of three nuclear power stations, and demand is soaring,” Andrew Ellis, professor of optical communications at Aston University, told the Sunday Times.
“It is growing so fast, currently at an exponential rate, that, in theory, it could be using all the UK power generation by 2035.”
The internet companies can opt to put down additional cables to meet the growing demand but that would ultimately result in higher bills.
“If you put down a second line, it doubles the cost,” Ellis added.
Professor Ellis said that one effective alternative to address the problem could be to ration web access.
“We cannot make all that extra power, so we will have to restrict or reduce access, perhaps by metering consumers so they pay for what they use,” Ellis added.
“If we don’t fix this then in 10 years time the Internet could have to cost more.”
Leading experts in the U.K. are expected to address the issue in a meeting at London’s Royal Society on May 11.
A spokesman for the Royal Society said “Communication networks face a potentially disastrous ‘capacity crunch’ as demand for data online outstrips the capacity of the optical fibres that carry internet signals.
“This meeting brings together experts to discuss why we’re heading towards a capacity crunch, what can be done to avert it, and the impact if we do nothing: data rationing, the end of net neutrality and rising costs for going online.”