Traffic demands to disrupt the internet by 2010

As traffic demands grow, PCs and laptops may start operating at much slower speeds.

Internet users will have to make do with slower and more unreliable connections as online traffic increases.

A report being compiled by Nemertes Research claims that services like the iPlayer and websites like YouTube could mean that bandwidth exceeded supply as early as next year, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Experts claimed that this would lead on to computers being disrupted and going off line for minutes at a time.

They went further, claiming that laptops and PCs would also operate at much slower speeds.

The researchers said that the web had reached a critical point and even the recession had failed to stave off problems, as more people were looking for work or working online from home.

Earlier this year, academics said that the explosive growth in internet traffic could make the current best-efforts' model used by ISPs impractical, where they tried to carry all the information they could handle to their destination.

The academics, including Martin Cave from the University of Warwick and Richard Collins of the Open University, said that a small fraction of users (around 10 per cent), accounted for 80 per cent of network use.

They said that this imbalance was not reflected in the subscription rates users were paying, although a small fraction of users affected the quality of service given to the majority.

In a statement they said: "One way for the ISPs to deal with this issue is to introduce different levels of quality of service, so that users (including application, service and content providers) can decide how much quality of service they want to purchase."

IT PRO has contacted Nemertes Research for comment on the report's findings and will update the story with more information as and when it is available.

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