Yesterday, I mentioned Bob Cringely’s prediction that 2007 will be “the year the net crashed,” when “video overwhelms the net and we all learn that the broadband ISPs have been selling us something they can’t really deliver.” Now, Jeremy Reimer, at Ars Technica, provides a few facts that lend some credence to Cringely’s forecast. The Venice Project, the peer-to-peer television network developed by the founders of Skype and now in beta testing, turns out to be an incredible bandwidth hog. Reports Reimer:
According to the project’s documentation seen by Ars Technica, watching an hour’s worth of TV consumes an average of 320MB downloaded and 105MB uploaded traffic, due to the service’s P2P architecture … For users with broadband caps, the Venice Project could easily consume a month’s worth of bandwidth in short order. Even users without caps could be affected if they “trip” unpublished limits on so-called “unlimited” services and get a call from Mr. Friendly ISP. Still, high bandwidth usage is nothing new; we all know someone (maybe even ourselves) pulling down this kind of data every month. What’s different about the Venice Project is that it could explode into The Next Big Thing™, turning more of us into “heavy users.”
The video boom, and the Venice Project in particular, may not bring the Net down, but it will likely reveal whether the current “abundance” of bandwidth is a lasting phenomenon or just a transitory one. The whole idea of software-as-a-service – indeed, the whole idea of Web 2.0 – is founded on abundant bandwidth. If the network becomes congested, a lot of companies are going to find themselves in difficult straits. At the very least, as Reimer notes, it would add a new complexity, and urgency, to the debate about net neutrality.