Chapter 6. Can the Internet Hit a Wall?

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Ethernet inventor and 3Com founder, in his InfoWorld column in 1995

I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.

Bob Metcalfe

The current prediction of bandwidth overload has a name—exaflood—and the potential inability of the network to handle such a load is the stuff of both cocktailparty conversations and serious boardroom discussions. While some may say it is doomsday, the-sky-is-falling talk, others warn that to not pay attention to the numbers would be foolish. As with most things, the appropriate level of concern is probably somewhere smack-dab between the extremes. And, of course, the entrepreneur sees it as a magnificent opportunity.

Let's start where everyone agrees: the global communications infrastructure, underpinned by the network, will continue to grow in importance and the volume of traffic will continue to grow at a significant rate. Whether the growth is linear or exponential will most likely be determined by the country and economic conditions, but it is reasonable, if not extremely conservative, to conclude that individuals, businesses, and governments alike will increasingly rely on networks worldwide.

There are predictions that have Internet traffic growing up to 11 times between 2008 and 2015. For example, take voice connections. The Wall Street Journal reported that as ...

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