New third generation (3G) mobile telephones and the growing availability of broadband connectivity – which will bring with it new Internet-based services such as video on demand – could lead to a ten-fold increase in traffic at Europe's largest Internet exchange point within two years.
Management and engineering staff at the London Internet Exchange (LINX) have drawn up a 'technology roadmap' to ensure that the exchange continues to have the capacity necessary to handle the growth in traffic. The plan is to be updated every three months to take account of actual and predicted traffic growth.
LINX chief executive John Souter said: "We have taken a realistic look at the future development of the Internet in the UK and, on the basis of those figures, are planning for a ten-fold increase in traffic in 24 months.
"Our peak traffic flows now are three times what they were at this time last year. The continuing roll-out of broadband, increasing business use of the Internet and the development of new Internet-based consumer services such as video on demand will see more and more demand for bandwidth at the exchange. We see no reason to believe the rate of growth will drop, even given predictions of a slow-down in economic activity."
As well as looking at expanding the use of existing technology to handle growing demand, the roadmap has plans for the deployment of new technologies – such as 10 gigabit Ethernet and IPv6 – and the introduction of new services at the exchange such as 'private peering' to give direct connections between the networks of participating ISPs.
LINX - a mutual ownership organisation of 120-plus Internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery service providers (CDSPs) – has already announced an investment of £2 million over the next twelve months in new and improved infrastructure.
Notes to editors:
1. LINX uses high-capacity switching and routing equipment at eight London sites to switch Internet traffic directly between the networks of more than 120 Internet service providers (ISPs). It is the largest Internet exchange point in Europe.
2. LINX handles up to 96 per cent of UK Internet traffic, giving ISPs valuable operational efficiencies and providing Internet users with faster data transmission.
3. At the end of October this year LINX announced that peak traffic flow at the exchange had exceeded 11.5 gigabits per second. This is three times the level of a year ago and more than twice the level at which it began the year.
4. One gigabit is 1,000 million bits of data. Although Internet traffic consists of a variety of data, one gigabit is roughly equivalent to 60,000 average e-mail messages. Peak traffic levels at LINX are therefore equivalent to 600,000 average e-mails per second.
5. Ethernet is an international standard that defines the use of copper or optical fibre to carry data at up to 1 gigabit per second. A new 10-gigabit Ethernet standard is currently being ratified. This will increase the potential carrying capacity of existing optical fibres 10-fold. LINX already has hardware installed that is capable of handling 10 gigabit Ethernet traffic as soon as the standard ratification process is complete.
6. IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) offers a number of improvements over the current IPv4, including handling IP addresses lengthened from 32 bits to 128 bits. This will permit further growth of the Internet and prevent any shortage of network addresses. IPv6 will be used by 3G mobile phones to give Internet connectivity 'on the move' and is expected to lead to further substantial Internet traffic growth.
For more information contact:
Mike Lennox or Michael Holland
Smye Holland Associates
Telephone: 01733 564906
The London Internet Exchange
Telephone: 01733 207701
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