Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO, news, filings) issued another of its traffic forecasts of doom today, putting a few numbers to the challenge faced by mobile networks over the next five years. In a nutshell, they are projecting 18-fold growth over that time period, reaching 10.8 exabytes per month when 2016 rolls around. Meanwhile, AT&T has chimed in with the news that its' mobile data traffic doubled again last year. There's no doubt, it's going to be a lot of bits.
Well, actually, it's going to be a lot of bits for mobile. The exaflood hysteria hit fixed networks four years ago. I argued then that this was just another restatement of the dilemma of Malthus, and this time is no different. Nor is Cisco worried about it. Actually they're salivating about selling the gear to do it all and hoping maybe it's even bigger than they say it is.
Of course, there are challenges to be met here - there always are. But in the end we already know how to meet all the bandwidth needs if we have to: offload it to fiber in more and more places. Total wireless spectrum may be limited by physics, but total fiber mileage is not. So when they talk about the mobile data explosion, fiber builders start grinning like mad. Give us your congested, your streamed, and your torrented masses of data yearning to be unthrottled...
The economic challenge will for the most part be faced by the largest, most profitable telecommunications companies in the world. They can take it even if they do whine a lot. The financial justification won't happen until the traffic itself forces it to happen - just as it has brought us this far. Whether it is the engineers and scientists who solve it, or higher prices, or regulatory action, or whatever - we will get there. Of course, different companies may be sitting on top of the heap when we do, but that's what it's all about.
Cisco punctuated it's traffic projections with this video narrated by - is that Pepé Le Pew?
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