Is Britain About to Lose Its Internet? And Could It Happen to Us?

Optical fibres are nearing 'capacity crunch' in England. (Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain)
Optical fibres are nearing 'capacity crunch' in England. (Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain)

Is the Internet going to suffer from a “capacity crunch” in Britain? How would the world cope with no Internet? Leading engineers, physicists, and telecom firms in Britain have expressed concerns that their Internet could be hovering on the brink of collapse.

Scientists have warned that the Internet cannot keep up with the demand. Leading experts are meeting at London’s The Royal Society to discuss what can be done to stop the web crisis.

With the ever-increasing use of Internet television, streaming services, and more powerful computers, this has led to an over use of the communications infrastructure, which could lead to a “capacity crunch” in only eight years. All of Britain’s power supply could be consumed by Internet usage in only 20 years if usage continues to rise at the same rate.

Fiber 101:

In 2005, a broadband Internet connection had a maximum speed of 2 Megabits per second, where today we have speeds of 100 Mb per second download available in many parts of the country.

Experts are warning that the science has reached its limit and fiber optics can take no more data.

Optical fibers Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Optical fibers in England are nearing full capacity.
(Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain)

Professor Andrew Ellis, who co-organized the Royal Society meeting, told the Daily Mail that if it becomes necessary to lay extra cables, Internet users could find themselves paying double or otherwise be forced to bear the inconvenience of data rationing.

“If you put down a second line, it doubles the cost… I think a conversation is needed with the British public as to whether or not they are prepared to switch that business model in exchange for more capacity. Are we prepared to pay more? Or should we stop expanding capacity and put up with Netflix juddering?”

Professor Ellis of Aston University in Birmingham said: “We are starting to reach the point in the research lab where we can’t get any more data into a single optical fiber. The intensity is the same as if you were standing right up against the sun. The deployment to market is about six to eight years behind the research lab, so within eight years, that will be it; we can’t get any more data in.

“Demand is increasingly catching up. It is growing again and again, and it is harder and harder to keep ahead. We have done very well for many years to keep ahead. But we are getting to that point where we can’t keep going for ever. Unless we come forward with really radical ideas, we are going to see costs dramatically increase,” reported Daily Times

A spokesman for the Royal Society said: “Communication networks face a potentially disastrous ‘capacity crunch’ as demand for data online outstrips the capacity of the optical fibers that carry Internet signals. ‘This meeting brings together experts to discuss why we’re heading towards a capacity crunch, what can be done to avert it, and the impact if we do nothing: data rationing, the end of net neutrality, and rising costs for going online,” reported the Daily Mail.

I wonder how many other countries have given this much thought. If there were to be problems with the Internet, there could be some real problems for governments.

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