Online video content for PC viewing is the fastest growing category of consumer usage, according to a study released yesterday. Driving down usage percentage in peer-to-peer data and Web, e-mail and other data, PC online video is projected to comprise nearly one-third of Internet traffic by 2012. This is not to say that P2P and web usage will dip, but rather that the total traffic will increase, along with video percentage. The video upsurge is not simply caused by more viewers and the increasing popularity of video Web sites such as Google's YouTube and NBC and NBC Universal and News Corp's Hulu. While the number of people watching is increasing, the quality of video is also improving. Simply put, this Internet usage shift is caused by both quantity and quality.
While video, as well as general Internet usage, increases, this does not create a problem as far as bandwidth capacity. Bandwidth-cap-inflicting Internet Service Providers would prefer consumers to believe that this increase slows general data flow, but this is not the case. TeleGeography Research data shows that in the past two years Internet bandwidth capacity increased faster than Internet traffic growth. in 2008, average traffic growth worldwide increased 53 percent, while bandwidth grew 62 percent. The peak traffic growth, which ISP companies propose are providing the supposed user-hog syndrome, was 58 percent, still less than the bandwidth increase.
The bandwidth cap has given companies the means to freeze bandwidth improvement with no means of consumer recourse. There is no incentive to develop infrastructure, since companies like Comcast can simply restrict or terminate access if users go over limit. The United States has mediocre bandwidth compared globally, and as Japan lays down 1Gbps fiber optics, US companies are miring progress in bloated bureaucracy.
There are arguments against bandwidth caps that center on Internet neutrality, fair use, and others , which are valid and important, but overly complicated. What really matters is that these caps stunt technological improvement.