Many of you have expressed your opinion, that with TV, cell phones and other devices flooding the Internet, we may be heading for a traffic jam on broadband usage. This morning I read an article at the NY Times that seems to confirm this theory as we stretch our resource for broadband service to the max. It seems that others are voicing their concerns, as well as possible solutions, that will affect all of us who use the Internet. The article stated that:
OUR taste for the Internet is insatiable — traffic is growing so fast that its transmission systems may soon be filled to capacity. But scientists are coping, finding ingenious ways to satisfy our deep bandwidth hunger.
Of course, they can’t accelerate the speed of light as it flies down the glass fibers of central networks carrying our Internet messages worldwide. The laws of nature limit that. Yet they can tap other characteristics of light to pack layers of information into each optical fiber in the network, so that far more data can flow simultaneously down those glass backbones.
Alcatel-Lucent recently announced a system for telecommunications service providers that takes advantage of both the polarization and phases of light to encode data. The system can more than double the capacity of a single fiber, said James Watt, head of the company’s optics division. Such a system, for example, can transmit more than twice the number of high-definition TV channels than can now be streamed concurrently.
The new equipment is part of a continued research drive to increase the capacity of each strand of optical fiber, said Keren Bergman, a professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University and head of its Lightwave Research Laboratory. “We are stuffing more information in the same space,” she said.
A fiber is no thicker than human hair, but can carry many wavelengths of laser light, with each wavelength adding to the bits transmitted per second. The bit rates now attainable are in the billions (gigabits) per second or even trillions (terabits) per second.
Whether or not these new technologies solve the broadband traffic jams is unknown. Only time will tell if in fact the equipment will be able to solve our broadband needs. Also is the issue of cost. How much will we be willing to pay to have the fastest broadband service to stream HDTV to our homes.
Also is the question about what about those in rural America who do not have access to broadband? Will they be left further behind as we expand out Internet usage?