The Net’s New Greatest Threat
I really hate being a doomsayer or a whistle-blower, but just out of sheer curiosity I was able to dig out some startling numbers over the past few days. Over the past ten years internet experts have all been pointing fingers at this, and that, of which would be the cause of the internet’s downfall.
Coming in at number one, was file-sharing (peer to peer networking). File-sharing can be a danger to the internet’s bandwidth because this involves many users pooling together their minuscule upload speeds to deliver someone else a fast download of the same file. The only problem with this, is that minuscule upload speed, it is rather hard to clog bandwidth when it takes several people to deliver one file at a decent download rate so the ISP’s severely limited the upload speeds of home-users and make businesses pay dearly for the upload bandwidth.
Then at number two was the internet numbering system, Internet Protocol Version Four (IPv4 ie, 255.255.255.255). So they came up with a solution to that too; IPv6 which gives us the use of hexadecimal instead of the “advanced binary” means we used in IPv4.
Now, I can foresee a more silent killer, so-to-speak that I believe the experts are overlooking; syndication. Syndication is a method of relaying and sharing of information between websites, be it news, articles, or other data that only requires a link back to the publishing site. In theory, this takes very little bandwidth, especially for the faster servers out there but according to WikiDot, because of the social networking online, the numbers are rising at substantial rates. According to InternetWorldStats, the total internet usage breakdown looks something like this (this is from only the user prospective):
- 20% – File-sharing (p2p networking)
- 7% – VoIP & VPN (Voice over IP and Virtual Private Networks)
- 1% – Other (chat, FTP, DNS, etc)
Here is the data taken from all of my websites and compiled for an average:
- 41% – HTTP, Images, CSS etc
- 40% – FEEDS (Syndication)
- 17% – Spiders (googlebot, alexia, etc)
- 2% – Other
What this reveals is something startling — Syndication is starting to occupy a very sizable portion of the internet bandwidth. It only makes sense though. Lets think: CNN publishes a news article, 10 other major news sites (like google news) then get the article through syndication, that is bandwidth times 10. Then 100 other minor sites get the same article and publish it. Now, 100-200 more smaller sites see the article on Google News, they then syndicate it further, causing a snow-ball effect until the article is then stale. When all is said and done, we have just used up 20% of the total traffic that would have been spent viewing the page itself from the viewers of just CNN.
How is this bad? When the bandwidth issues for file-sharing became prevalent, it was obvious, people reacted and made changes. File-sharing was only able to climb to about 20% and there is where it holds steady. Syndication however has been slowly climbing at the rate that a rock accelerates to the ground after it is released from being suspended in the air. It started at 0, then started rising, and then even faster, to today we’re looking at nearly 100% of the server-to-server traffic being pure syndication! Here comes the problem, where home-users were limited in bandwidth to stop the file-sharing bandwidth problems, syndication is done between servers, where bandwidth restrictions are near-nonexistent thus paving the way to an expected total clog of the internet in the near future.
Syndication does serve a lot of great purposes that shouldn’t be overlooked either. It provides website owners a way to “get the word out” as well as a way for users to know instantly what is going on in the world but what price will we be paying for this source of “instant” data-sharing? Only the future truly holds the answer to that question.