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Friday, May 22, 2015

Is the Internet Getting Full?

The Internet Is Running Out of Room—But We Can Save It

Jacob Aron | May 15, 2015

Are we running out of internet? It might sound like an odd question, but researchers met at the Royal Society in London this week to discuss a coming internet "capacity crunch", and what we might do about it.
The meeting sparked headlines warning of a "full" internet and the potential need for data rationing, but the reality is more nuanced. The crunch is real, caused by fast growth of online media consumption through the likes of Netflix and Youtube, but physics and engineering can help us escape it. The internet just needs a few tweaks.
Fear of a capacity crunch stems from a hard physical truth – there is a limit to the amount of information you can cram down any communications channel, fibre-optic cable or copper wire. Discovered in 1940 by Claude Shannon, this limit depends on the channel's bandwidth – the number of frequencies it can transmit – and its signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).

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