Does the Internet Need an Overhaul?

Last Updated Oct 3, 2007 1:16 PM EDT

868512737_aba59326ca_m.jpgEveryone senses the Internet is changing -- with podcasts, vodcasts, YouTube, VOIP, videoconferencing, and a variety of other audio and video uses, the Internet is transforming from essentially a text based experience into a wonderland of multimedia. Media companies and marketers are scrambling to adjust, as are the big search engine companies. But perhaps this change presents even more fundamental challenges.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal spoke to Larry Roberts, who oversaw a Defense Department project in 1969 which laid the foundation for the Internet. His verdict, the Internet itself needs an overhaul. Why?

In a recent report, Cisco calculated that monthly Internet traffic in North America will increase 264% by 2011 to more than 7.8 million terabytes, or the equivalent of 40 trillion email messages.
This incredible growth threatens to overwhelm the infrastructure of the Internet, which was originally designed for very different uses than we demand of it today. Roberts' money quote on the topic:
"The Internet wasn't designed for people to watch television. I know because I designed it."
Among those for whom these challenges are particularly pressing, are companies with lots of communication traffic between many satellite offices. To serve their needs a number of start-up firms are offering hardware and software to deal with the bandwidth crunch, including Anagran Inc., which is run by Roberts.

(Image of iCommons Summit '07 by vlidi, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.