traffic jam on the information superhighway

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The information Superhighway may need to add a few more lanes if it hopes to accommodate the growing traffic that short form videos are bringing to the mix. Indeed, with the popularity of Facebook owned Instagram, and Twitter’s Vine application growing exponentially, many industry experts are starting to worry that the prevailing signs that will define conditions on the Information Superhighway will be, “slow traffic ahead.”

Short-form videos give users the opportunity to film, upload, and share short videos with the ease that previously characterized the sharing of photos and text messages. The primary difference however, is that video absorbs an incredible amount of data compared to the impact of either messages or still pictures.

It is estimated that after Facebook announced Instagram’s augmented video features in June that more than five million videos were filmed and uploaded within the first 24-hours of availability by FaceBook’s 130 million users. In fact, at one point more than forty hours of video were being uploaded per minute according to network administrators.

Cisco Systems issued a prescient  warning of the upcoming deluge in data usage more than five years ago, and that forewarning is finally coming to fruition as younger users quickly adopt the new technology.  This enthusiasm has system administrators scrambling to find solutions to the data drain.

One such firm, Juniper Networks, specializes in assisting carriers move wireless data more efficiently to where it needs to be by supplying routers and supporting software.  According to Steve Shaw, director of project marketing at Juniper, “There’s a new generation of users who have grown up using smart phones. They choose to use their phones for social networking first and phone calls last.”

This proclivity has had a marked impact on data usage. For example, Juniper compiled numbers that indicate that a quarter-minute video uploaded to Instagram uses better than 16-times the megabytes required to send a still photo and more than 72-times the megabytes of a single text message. To put it another way, the estimated 65 million Instagram users are collectively sending out on average 1.5 videos a month totaling 936 million megabytes a month.  To put this in perspective, Instagram users currently share upwards of some 45 million photos a day that collectively consumes 791 million megabytes per month.

“You can see that if people started sharing videos as frequently as photos, the implications would be enormous,” notes a Juniper spokesperson.

This growing trend pits consumer enthusiasm against available online resources with the effect that most wireless users are unaware of how much usage they are consuming. Although wireless carriers send out notices that indicate when a subscriber is bumping up against their limit, such notifications appear to have little or no impact on constraining such usage.

At this point, the only thing that is assured is that video sharing is slated to only grow in popularity, and that growth will continue to place strain on the capability of wireless carriers to manage the increasingly large data dumps, which are sure to further clog up the lanes of the Information Superhighway.

randy bowden – t | f | g+

(image:123RF)

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