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LEADING INTERNET ALLIANCE SAYS WEB’S CAPACITY IS NEARING ITS LIMIT
The Internet Innovation Alliance Prepares for Coming Exaflood; Renews Commitment to Universal Broadband in America

WASHINGTON D.C. – April 18, 2007 – The explosive growth of video applications and downloads is generating an exaflood of data that, unless properly managed, could strain the Internet’s bandwidth capacity and prevent the emergence of exciting new applications key to broadband adoption, announced the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) today.  The IIA, a broad-based coalition of non-profit organizations and businesses committed to widespread usage and availability of broadband, is working to educate consumers, business leaders and policy makers on the looming exaflood and how to successfully prepare for it.

“Bandwidth-intensive applications like video and music are redefining the Internet,” said Larry Irving, co-chairman of the IIA and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Clinton Administration.  “The strain on broadband and the coming of this massive data deluge is called the exaflood.  The exaflood challenge will be manageable, even exciting – if we take the necessary steps to expand our networks now.”

In 2007 the amount of information created will surpass, for the first time, the storage capacity available, according to a new IDC report.  Over the past two years, the demand for bandwidth has increased dramatically due largely to a surge in video applications, which consume more bandwidth than emails or information searches.  YouTube uses as much bandwidth today as the entire Internet consumed in the year 2000.  Users daily upload 65,000 new videos and download 100 million files, a 1,000 percent increase from just one year ago.  Experts say more than a billion songs a day are shared over the Internet in MP3 format. 

In computer terms, one exabyte is 1,073,741,824 gigabytes.  That means that five exabytes are equal to all the words ever spoken by human beings, according to research from the University of California at Berkeley.  The information added annually to the digital universe between 2006 and 2010 is expected to increase more than six fold – to 988 exabytes.

The infrastructure needed to meet this growing demand is substantial.  The Internet, which is comprised of thousands of privately-owned networks stitched together, requires constant investment and improvement so it can continue to grow and run smoothly.  The private companies responsible for maintaining the Internet’s backbone constantly upgrade the computers, routers, fiber optics and software to ensure that data gets where it needs to go as quickly as possible. 

“The exponential explosion in digital content must be matched with smarter networks that will more efficiently get it to our homes, business and schools,” said Bruce Mehlman, co-chairman of the IIA and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the George W. Bush Administration.  “This new era of technology augurs great things for our economy and our nation.  However, the future will require ongoing investment and relentless innovation.”

How to Prepare for the Coming Exaflood:

  • Promote investment in content, upgrades of infrastructure and innovation in Internet technologies and applications;
  • Protect consumers through market competition to ensure lower prices and broadband access for all communities;
  • Maximize competition among service providers and technologies, through policies such as video franchise reform;
  • Limit government control through permanent extension of the Internet tax moratorium and by reducing exorbitant taxation of service providers.

Universal Broadband
A companion reality to the coming exaflood is the ongoing challenge of universal broadband availability and quality in America.  The United States has dropped to 16th place in terms of speed, access and competitive pricing of broadband services among nations ranked. 

“We must re-establish America as the global leader in broadband access and adoption,” said Mehlman.  “The economy grows faster, jobs are more plentiful and pay is higher in areas where broadband is easily accessible.  Some experts say universal broadband deployment could add 1.2 million jobs and $500 billion to the U.S. economy.”

Other benefits of universal broadband and a more robust Internet include new services and applications such as universities that offer course lectures on-line and telemedicine programs that transmit medical images and link patients with distant specialists for real-time consultations.

“We must encourage extraordinary investments,” said Irving.  “If not, we risk falling even further behind in broadband penetration while facing Internet gridlock that will wreak havoc on Internet services.”

The Internet Innovation Alliance Irving and Mehlman founded the IIA in 2004.  Irving is president and CEO of Irving Information Group, a consulting firm providing strategic advice and assistance to international telecommunications and technology companies.  Mehlman is co-founder of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc., a bipartisan public affairs consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the Internet Innovation Alliance visit: www.internetinnovation.org