Traditional voice telephony will be absorbed by the Internet, predicted UUnet president and CEO John Sidgmore at the ISPcon show in San Jose this week.
UUnet, a subsidiary of Worldcom, is the world?s largest Internet service provider.
?The Internet has become the dominant piece of the communications industry," said Sidgmore. He said the demand for Internet bandwidth is doubling every three to four months.
Sidgmore said this rate will not slow down any time soon. He suggested the growth might even speed up, because current expansion is mostly caused by new users coming online. The added demand caused by high bandwidth, multimedia content ?hasn?t even kicked in yet?, he argued.
On top of that, Internet use outside the US will start to catch up, now that regulatory control has been lifted in Europe, and more localised content is coming online.
Another source of new bandwidth demand is the proliferation of what he calls ?silicon cockroaches? - intelligent, Internet enabled devices such as organisers and cellular phones. New types of cockroaches will surf the Web without human intervention in search of information, and report back to their owners, dramatically increasing Internet traffic.
Companies like Worldcom, Qwest and Level 3 are deploying fibre networks across the US and internationally. But Sidgmore said there is no risk of a bandwidth glut. He said Worldcom would continue to deploy new bandwidth ?as aggressively as humanly possible?.
The immense growth in Internet traffic will soon dwarf voice traffic, said Sidgmore. Internet use is growing at 1,000 per cent each year, while voice telephony sees eight per cent yearly growth.
?We are betting the ranch that the Internet will be the communications industry in a couple of years," he said.
?Circuit switching will be around at least for four or five years, and possibly a lot longer," conceded Sidgmore. For the simple reason that the infrastructure exists, prices can be dropped. But the future for traditional, circuit switching telephony is bleak.
?If 50 per cent of voice traffic is actually fax, and all fax is [soon] going over the Internet, then the whole [voice] industry is at stake," said Sidgmore.
In his speech, Sidgemore also referred to his long negotiations with US authorities. ?I?ve spent the last 12 months trying to get our MCI merger approved. And I have to say: if you haven?t spent 12 months with the Justice Department, you haven?t lived."
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