[Nanog] ATT VP: Internet to hit capacity by 2010

Steve Gibbard scg at gibbard.org
Mon Apr 21 19:12:10 UTC 2008

On Mon, 21 Apr 2008, Sean Donelan wrote:

> The rest of the story?
> http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/services/2008-04-20-internet-broadband-traffic-jam_N.htm
>   By 2010, the average household will be using 1.1 terabytes (roughly
>   equal to 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica) of bandwidth a
>   month, according to an estimate by the Internet Innovation Alliance in
>   Washington, D.C. At that level, it says, 20 homes would generate more
>   traffic than the entire Internet did in 1995.
> How many folks remember InternetMCI's lack of capacity in the 1990's
> when it actually needed to stop installing new Internet connections
> because InternetMCI didn't have any more capacity for several months.

I've been on the side arguing that there's going to be enough growth to 
cause interesting issues (which is very different than arguing for any 
specific remedy that the telcos think will be in their benefit), but the 
numbers quoted above strike me as an overstatement.

Let's look at the numbers:

iTunes video, which looks perfectly acceptable on my old NTSC TV, is .75 
gigabytes per viewable hour.  I think HDTV is somewhere around 8 megabits 
per second (if I'm remembering correctly; I may be wrong about that), 
which would translate to one megabyte per second, or 3.6 gigabytes per 

For iTunes video, 1.1 terabytes would be 1,100 gigabytes, or 1,100 / .75 = 
1,467 hours.  1,467 / 30 = 48.9 hours of video per day.  Even assuming we 
divide that among three or four people in a household, that's staggering.

For HDTV, 1,100 gigabytes would be 1,100 / 3.6 = 306 hours per month.  306 
/ 30 = 10.2 hours per day.

Maybe I just don't spend enough time around the "leave the TV on all day" 
demographic.  Is that a realistic number?  Is there something bigger than 
HDTV video that ATT expects people to start downloading?


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