Information superhighway in need of new construction

The information superhighway may soon experience a serious traffic jam – or perhaps a speed bump.

The size of the Internet could be exhausted by the year 2010, according to independent analysis firm Nemertes Research Group. The Internet spans the world in a hierarchy of interconnected commercial, government, academic and other high-capacity data routes.

The average Internet user will produce 161 exabytes of new data this year, amounting in substantial Internet growth, according to the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA). One exabyte is comparable to 50,000 years of DVD-quality video. The study by the Nemertes Research Group predicted the necessary funds that would accommodate such a growth in size are expected to reach as high as $137 billion.

In the next three to five years, demand in North America for Web applications like streaming and interactive video, peer-to-peer file transfers and music downloads will require funds ranging from $42 billion to $55 billion.

USF students, like most college students, rely heavily on the Internet for entertainment, television, social networking and e-mail. Theoretically, if the funds for expansion were not provided, some form of meter might have to be developed to limit the addition of new content.

But fear not, USF students. While most research would be a problem if the funding is not supplied, online courses and WebMail would remain untouched. USF is on Internet2, which was created in 1996. It was created to cater exclusively to colleges and universities by offering a “higher-performance network,” according to

“There are so many businesses and companies who rely primarily on the Internet that the demand almost guarantees that the funds will be found and the expansion will take place,” said William D. Armitage, interim chair of USF’s Information Technology Department.

According to women’s studies major Brittany Taylor, some Internet offerings can be done without.

“I only use the Internet for research, so if sites like MySpace had to be deleted, I think people should read a book insted,” she said.

The Internet is steadily clogging, and like Interstate 4, the remedy seems to be to add more lanes.

“The Internet is a perfect illustration of the old rule: Expand until you run out of resources.” Armitage said. “And when you do, get more resources.”