Half of the world's workforce will continue to be hampered by inadequate internet bandwidth despite the rollout of fibre optic technologies.
Rollout of new fibre will be concentrated around major metropolitan areas leaving the rest of the globe to cope with ever decreasing capacity, warned researcher Gartner.
Jay Pultz, a research director, said at the company's US Spring Symposium this week: "Fibre optic technologies will drive down the price of bandwidth by 50 per cent over the next five years, but as enterprises virtualise and employees work remotely they will find that infinite bandwidth is a myth."
He compared the availability of fibre technology from telcos with flights from airlines. The abundance of flights to major cities has helped drive down fares, but flights to less popular destinations are expensive and are served by fewer carriers.
Even developments such as digital subscriber line, cable modems and fixed wireless will not meet the bandwidth demands of home workers, Pultz added.
Gartner estimates that over the next five years, Wan (wide area network) traffic will be between 10 and 20 times larger than today's networks, and Lan (local area network) environments will be between three and five times bigger.
Enterprise networks will have to support 20 per cent increases in the global workforce over the next five years, and will also have to embrace new users such as consumers as well as ASP-type resources. However, network budgets across organisations will double by 2003 to support this, he added.
"The network will be six-dimensional, integrating voice, data and video with the intra-enterprise, partners and consumers. It will cut across workgroups, campuses, local, long distance and international boundaries," he said.
But Pultz warned against opting for one carrier to provide global infrastructures because the greater control they have, the larger the penalties are if problems occur on the network. "The most innocuous error could bring down the entire network," he said.
Pultz also believes the battle between ATM and IP is over as they have separate uses. ATM can help improve the efficiency of expensive bandwidth, whereas IP is best deployed where bandwidth cost is less of an issue.
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