Cisco: Puppy cams threaten Internet

Expert says growth of ambient video could strain global nets

HONOLULU -- Network demand will explode, fueled by unexpected growth in ambient video, like puppy cams and surveillance video, according to reports from the 33rd Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) conference held last week in Hawaii.

Several thousand technology professionals from across the Pacific hemisphere attended the annual conference. Delegates from the United States were the largest bloc, with Hong Kong SAR and China next, followed by Japan, India, Singapore and many Asia-Pacific regions and countries.

Telegeography Research presented estimates that global broadband Internet subscribers will climb to more than 700 million by 2013, with more than 300 million from Asia, compared to about 100 million in North America, and nearly 200 million in Europe.

GAUGING THE VOLUME: What to expect in data storage and network traffic growth in 2011

And Robert Pepper, Cisco vice president for global technology policy, presented findings from the company's Visual Networking Index, which showed that global IP traffic is expected to increase more than fourfold (4.3 times) from 2009 to 2014.

In fact, global IP traffic is expected to reach 63.9 exabytes per month in 2014. This is equivalent to 766.8 exabytes per year -- almost three-quarters of a zettabyte.The most surprising trend is that video traffic surpassed peer-to-peer volumes in 2010 for the first time.

An unexpected driver in this overall growth of Internet traffic is the surge in ambient video. This is so-called "puppy cam" traffic -- fixed video sources featuring pets, so-called "nanny cam" child care and health monitoring video streams, and especially security camera applications.

``This a much bigger deal than anyone thought,'' said Pepper. He added that the popular Shiba Inu Puppy Cam site was said to have more Internet viewing hours than all of ESPN online video. In fact, of the top online video sites in Europe last year, "three of the top 20 are ambient video, and these didn't exist a year ago."

Other key findings in the Cisco report are:

• Consumer-driven Internet traffic overwhelms business traffic in volume. This shifting composition will lead to 87% consumer traffic vs. 13% business traffic by 2014.

• The nearly 64 exabytes of global IP traffic per month projected for 2014 is equivalent to 16 billion DVDs, 21 trillion MP3s, or 399 quadrillion text messages.

• By 2014, the highest IP-traffic generating regions will be North America (19.0 exabytes per month), Asia Pacific (17.4 exabytes per month), Western Europe (16.2 exabytes per month) and Japan (4.3 exabytes per month). Asian traffic altogether will be highest in the world.

• The fastest growing IP-traffic regions for the forecast period (2009-2014) are Latin America (51 percent compound annual growth rate, 7.9-fold growth), the Middle East and Africa (45 percent CAGR, 6.5-fold growth), and Central Europe (38 percent CAGR, 5.1-fold growth).

All these changes, with larger volumes and changing user needs, require network providers and managers to prepare for new and unexpected demands on their infrastructure and operations.

Pepper said wireless networks are going to need more spectrum, "and fiber to every antenna, fiber to every village -- a T-1 connection to the antenna is not going to cut it."

Ethical issues emerge

Keynote speaker David Suzuki, a Canadian ecologist, noted that humans are now the most numerous species of any mammal in the world. "There are more humans than rats, or rabbits," he said. He warned that exponential growth of human demands on the planet has led to climate change, and could lead to potential ecological disaster.

Suzuki challenged communications industry professionals to apply their insights and innovations to more informed policies and practices. The conference itself featured a number of presentations focused on "green IT." Another focus was economic development for underserved areas of the Pacific, especially island nations and rural populations, through broadband projects.

Communications ethicist Thomas Cooper presented research showing that ethical considerations are far more prevalent in industry discussions now than they were in the 1990s. Cooper reported the top five communication ethics areas observed, in order: privacy; information security; freedom of information and censorship; digital divide; intellectual property and patent protection.

Cooper emphasized that communications ethics involves not only "red light" issues such as regulating negative impacts of invasion of privacy and cybercrime, but also "green light" issues such as education, telemedicine and e-democracy. Cooper forecast that the communications industry will continue to face these intertwined challenges, and urged PTC delegates to be ready to participate in both.

Intelligent-community contenders selected

New York-based think tank Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) announced at the conference its annual "Top Seven" semifinalists for the Intelligent Community of the Year award. The winner will be revealed at the ICF's June 2011 conference at NYU-Poly University in Brooklyn.

The ICF selects the Intelligent Community list based on how advanced communities are in deploying broadband; building a knowledge-based workforce; combining government and private-sector "digital inclusion"; fostering innovation and marketing economic development. This year's selection also includes emphasis on community health, especially in using information and communication technologies for its support, and in building health-related business clusters.

As announced by ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla, the 2011 intelligent city finalists are:

• Chattanooga, Tenn.

• Dublin, Ohio

• Eindhoven, Netherlands

• Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

• Riverside, Calif.

• Stratford, Ontario, Canada

• Windsor-Essex, Ontario, Canada

Pacific Telecommunications Council's 2012 meeting dates have also been announced. The 34th annual meeting will be in Honolulu at the Hilton Hawai'ian Village, Jan. 15-18, 2012.

Gillette is professor of information and communication sciences at Ball State University, director of its Human Factors Institute, and a senior research fellow at the Digital Policy Institute. He has written extensively on information technologies and policy, and worked in academic, industry and public policy organizations. He can be reached at jaygillette@bsu.edu.

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