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Future Drivers of Internet Bandwidth


I spent yesterday at Cynthia Brumfield’s phenomenal, closed-to-the-press Internet Video Policy Symposium. There were quite a few FCC economists present (current and former) and a number of lawyers and academics. Much of what was discussed was outside the scope of this particular blog, but it was all good food for thought, and you will see some of the themes covered emerge in this and future posts.

One of the topics discussed yesterday that has everything to do with this blog was future drivers of Internet bandwidth. However the government decides to regulate broadband management, there are applications coming that are going to continue to drive up bandwidth usage. Hint: It’s not just Web TV and movies that are going to create traffic on broadband pipes in the not-too-distant future.

First, if you move beyond entertainment, there are fascinating new uses for all the video we collect on a daily basis. With all of the monitoring cameras placed in dense US cities, it’s possible now to create virtual 3-D mock-ups of real-world sites. Imagine the modeling possibilities. You could use such an application to model transportation and traffic scenarios, for police training, for event management in a place like Times Square, or as a tool to attract business and tourists. It’s mind boggling.

Second, video telephony really will spread to the masses at some point. As someone mentioned yesterday, it’s a low-production-value, high-personal-value application. In my opinion, we’ll probably see it spread through some IM app or social networking site first. Once we hit a tipping point (and no I’m not making any specific predictions), the bandwidth implications will be huge.

Finally, there’s cloud computing. As far as I can tell, people mean a range of things when they talk about cloud computing (from consumer applications to large volumes of computing power made available to businesses), but whatever the specific intended definition, cloud computing in general simply means offloading computer processing and storage from a client device to the network. Big time bandwidth usage.

I’m not doing any sort of justice to yesterday’s conference with this post, as I’ve just picked out one tiny topic of discussion from an event that focused much more on network management and government regulation. However, if you’re interested in the policy perspective, check out Cynthia Brumfield’s blog IP Democracy, and stay tuned for likely future events. In the meantime, I’ll hit on further bandwidth topics from the conference as I can on this site. The broadband, and yes policy landscape is changing at a breakneck pace.

2 Responses

  1. […] a day goes by without news of Internet video apps using more bandwidth than was even conceived of a few short years ago. In my head, these reports […]

  2. […] a lot about what’s going to drive downstream bandwidth use over the next few years. There are several applications on the horizon – 3D television, 3D video modeling, and video telephony, to name a view – but what about the […]

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