Keeping the Wheels Turning



A good internet connection is a pre-requisite for any startup company, any apartment or house, and increasingly, any mobile phone. The internet is an integral part of our lives and recent research suggests that without it, a huge majority of the world’s companies would be unable to function properly.

As the internet age continues, applications that take up more and more bandwidth are becoming popular. Social networking has led to photos, videos, and everything else you can think of being shared around the internet and this takes a lot of bandwidth.

As a result, companies are running just to keep up. New techniques are being pioneered all the time – looking at things like innovative ways of using carbon fibre to launching new satellites into the sky – that may be able to keep the bandwidth just big enough for everyone to be satisfied.

On top of that there is the government’s commitment to ensure that the UK broadband network is the best in Europe by 2015. So far progress hasn’t been fast, but of late there have been some new companies getting involved in the process that suggests we may all be receiving super fast broadband in not so long.

The main drain on the system is the video on demand (vod) phenomenon. Perhaps the biggest example of video on demand is YouTube, undeniably one of the most influential and most visited websites in the world. Video, and particularly high definition, takes up an astonishing amount of bandwidth and can single-handedly slow down an entire system. In addition to entertainment, services like Skype that offer video calling rely on a lot of bandwidth, and as these services are increasingly used by businesses to run on a day to day basis, it’s pretty important that there is always enough bandwidth to ensure everything works smoothly.

Market leading companies like Sky are constantly looking at ways to increase the speed of our broadband connections to support all manner of bandwidth hungry – HD TV and 3D TV for instance – content, but it is apparent that a significant investment is going to be required if every house in the UK is to receive the kind of connection that the government has been talking about. If that investment doesn’t arrive, we’re never too far away from a surge in usage that could bring the entire system to a juddering halt.