BBC NEWS | Technology | Net gridlock by 2010 study warns

A new study by Nemertes Research puts the date that the Internet will hit a traffic jam as early as 2010. Net enthusiasts, which probably includes most of this site’s readers, have known that it was coming eventually – but so soon is somewhat surprising.

What does this mean?

One thing it could mean, if we let the free market work itself out, is creation a multi-tiered Internet, which is favored by many big Web companies. Top traffic magnets, like Google or Amazon.com, would be given bandwidth priority by ISPs, effectively creating a first-class Internet.

Smaller sites would have to wrestle for the remaining bandwidth, smaller companies would have a harder time getting off the ground, and the Internet would slowly begin to resemble Network Television, where a few broadcasters are the staples, and local stations vie with one another for remaining broadcasting space.

The obvious problem with that is that smaller sites would be muscled out almost entirely in the long run. There would be very little room for innovation (as the BBC article points out, it could squish the next Google), which is a hallmark of the Internet. But besides the next new great business, it would also muscle out much of the Blogosphere, the hundreds of thousands of people that use the Internet to opine on everything from Dogs vs. Cats to the value of the gold standard.

Losing that grassroots groundswell of political involvement and writing that has evolved over the last few years would be a real travesty – it would mark the death of an environment where someone can really immerse themselves in the marketplace of ideas without having to slog through countless JSTOR articles.

And that’d be a real shame.

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