Washington, November 26 : Australian researchers at the University of Melbourne say that the exponential growth of high speed broadband will create an energy bottleneck in the coming years.
Dr. Kerry Hinton, from the university's Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the ARC Special Centre for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks (CUBIN), claims to have identified the major contributors to Internet power consumption as the take-up of broadband services grows.
"It has now become clear that the exponential growth of the Internet is not sustainable," said Dr. Hinton.
The researchers reckon that the power consumption of the Internet will increase from 0.5 per cent of the present-day national electricity consumption to 1 per cent by around 2020, even with the improvements in energy efficiency of electronics.
According to them, the growth of the Internet, IT broadband telecommunications would provide a wide range of new products and services.
Hinton says that services like Video on Demand, web based real-time gaming, social networking, peer-to-peer networking, video conferencing, outsourcing, and tele-working will put a lot of pressure on the system.
"To support these new high-bandwidth services, the capacity of the Internet will need to be significantly increased. If Internet capacity is increased, the energy consumption, and consequently the carbon footprint of the Internet will also increase. This will place a major burden on the nation's power infrastructure as well as significantly contribute to green house gas production," Hinton says.
The researcher even said that the size and power requirements of servers, routers and data centres had already started to make major ICT and Internet based companies experience difficulties.
The university team's model includes the entire network infrastructure required to provide the increasing traffic volumes arising from proposed new high-bandwidth services.
"Increasing amounts of energy will be needed to power and cool Internet equipment that provides high speed broadband," says Hinton.
"If service providers don't update their equipment, energy consumption will soar, but then cost of updating may also be prohibitive.
"This model is important because it shows us where we must focus our efforts to ensure the Internet is energy efficient. If we don't do this, the Internet will not fulfil the social and economic promise many of us are expecting of it," Hinton adds.
The research was presented at "Symposium on Sustainability of the Internet and ICT", hosted by The ARC Special Centre for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks (CUBIN), at the University of Melbourne.