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2015 Predictions – Internet Blackout?

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Internet of Things – Courtesy of The Connectivist

Internet of Things – Courtesy of The Connectivist

As it is now late December it doesn’t feel right without providing some early 2015 resolutions (or predictions). Since New Year’s resolutions don’t seem to make past Valentine’s day, lets go with predictions.

2014 was a good year for technology. More smartphones and tablets, faster processing power and lower prices for consumer products such as TV’s as well as great deals on internet service. On top of that the economy is ending the year on a high note. Sounds like a good line up for a good upcoming year.

There has been a lot of talk about the influence of cloud computing on both enterprise and consumers. More businesses are using the cloud for their business needs by using everything from software as a service (SaaS) and even infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Why buy servers when you can lease a remote data center complete with service that can expand with your business. For the consumer cloud computing has become mainstream as well with Microsoft offering office applications as a service. Apple and other providers offer cloud storage for all of the consumer data from their smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The Cloud

The Cloud

Even storage companies such as Western Digital and Seagate now offer their external hard drives as a cloud server. Before you could connect a Western Digital external drive to a USB port and backup your computer. Now you connect the cloud server device to your local area network via an Ethernet port and use applications software to store data and backups from all of your connected devices. This is an improvement but it does mean that you have to have a home based local area network that can support both wireless and Ethernet connected devices.

The other technology, well maybe not technology but internet application, is the Internet of Things (IoT). With IoT, embedded devices are connected to the internet. Everything from wearables such as fitness monitors to industrial devices will be connected to the internet. Where cloud computing is well defined and being developed and deployed rapidly, IoT is still in development. Work still needs to be done in radio technology to connect embedded devices to the Internet. Today you can use a fitness device to talk to your smartphone using Bluetooth and the smartphone is connected to the internet via cellular radio or a wireless hotspot. In the future you can connect directly to the internet but probably not in 2015 for most devices.

But what about the internet itself? With all of the development of devices and applications designed to connect to the internet, is the internet going to have problems supporting all of the activity? This is an issue and one that may make the headlines many times in the upcoming year. Here are a couple of examples of usage that may cause serious internet problems.

The first is streaming media over the internet. Streaming video over the internet is already causing problems for the internet providers. As Netflix, Amazon, HBO and others offer video streaming at cheaper rates, the internet service providers (ISP) are getting more complaints from customers about low data rates and connection problems. It has reached the point where ISP’s are demanding the right to charge more for streaming customers. They have a valid point in that whereas Netflix and other content suppliers are providing cheap access to their customers they do not have the burden of supporting the cost of maintaining the internet connection.

Most ISP services provide reasonable speed internet access that is fine for web browsing and normal activities but to support high definition streaming where data is flowing at a rate of 2.4 GB/hour at least 25Mb/sec data rate is required. In 2014 streaming was just getting started but over the holiday season Amazon alone sold 10 million new prime memberships and Amazon prime members get free video streaming from the Amazon TV and movie library. That is a lot of new users.

Another example is the use of smartphones. The number of smartphones is increasing exponentially and the expectations of the users are getting higher. In the past smartphones were used for taking pictures, texting, email and, yes, even phone calls. Now with the cloud, smartphones are used to share pictures and videos as well as being the main interface device for all of the social media sites. The pressure on the phone companies to provide bandwidth is tremendous. For an active user 10GB/month of data usage is normal. Google says 60% of web searches are from mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) and is pushing for sites to be responsive (mobile friendly) so they look good on mobile devices.

The pressure on the internet in 2015 is going to be tremendous. In some areas of the country it is a struggle to get emails over the internet and it is only going to get worse. One additional item that is interesting is a quote made by Jaishree Subramania, Director, Internet of Things, CISCO – “In roughly 2,000 years of recorded history, humans created 2 Exabytes (two million terabytes) of data. We now generate over 2.5 Exabytes of data every day.”

Fixed Residential Broadband Connections per 1,000 Households

Fixed Residential Broadband Connections per 1,000 Households

The FCC defined Broadband as 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up and recently proposed to raise that to 25Mbps down and 1Mbps up.  Nationwide, there were about 60 fixed broadband internet connections meething the threshold per every 100 households.  The US is ranked 28th worldwide for broadband access.

Is 2015 the year when we start seeing Internet Blackouts? Both Sony and Nintendo suffered severe blackouts of their gaming networks in December due to high traffic due to a combination of hacking and user traffic. As more users enable their new holiday purchased gadgets network issues can only increase.

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