CASESTUDY Akamai Technologies: When Demand Exceeds Capacity In 2011, the amount of Internet traffic generated by YouTube alone is greater than the amount of traffic on the entire Internet in 2000. By 2015, the digital equivalent of all the movies ever made will cross over the Internet every five minutes. In the last year, Netflixâ€™s subscriber base jumped over 50% to 16 million, most of whom are now streaming movies over the Internet, and they now account for 20% of all Internet traffic in the United States. Because of video streaming and the explosion in mobile devices demanding high-bandwidth applications, Internet traffic has increased 800% since 2006, and is predicted to expand four times by 2015. Internet video is now 40% of Internet traffic and will reach 62% by 2015, according to networking giant Cisco Systems. Mobile platform traffic from smartphones and Wi-Fi devices is growing at 60% and will soon push cell networks and the Internet to their capacities. Cisco estimates that annual global Internet traffic will hit nearly 1 zettabyte in 2015â€”thatâ€™s 1,000 exabytes, or, in other words, 10 with 19 zeroes behind it! Experts call applications like Netflix, YouTube, and high definition streaming video services â€œnet bombsâ€ because they threaten the effective operation of the Internet. At some point, demand will exceed capacity, and either there will be â€œbrownoutsâ€ where everyoneâ€™s connection speed slows down or â€œcappingâ€ of bandwidth hogs (those 10% of Internet users who consume 60% of the Internetâ€™s capacity because of extensive video downloading). Analysts differ on how fast Internet capacity is growing. Large telecommunication companies (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Level3) argue that demand will overwhelm capacity by 2015, while other experts argue that Internet bandwidth can double every year for a very long time, and easily keep up with demand. Perhaps theyâ€™re both right: Internet capacity can expand to keep up with demand if sufficient capital is invested in backbone and local networks. Thatâ€™s a big â€œif.â€ As a result, and in order to raise capital, nearly all the large ISPs such as Comcast, Charter, Cox, and AT&T have bandwidth caps in place where heavy users of video are charged more for their Internet service. More charges based on usage are in the pipeline. Is Internet bandwidth capacity doubling every year? The proof is in the pudding. How fast have your home or office bandwidth connections grown in the last year? Chances are, your Internet connect speed has not changed in several years. Over 1.1 million people online watched the U.S. soccer team beat Algeria in the 2010 World Cup, the largest online sports event in history. Many viewers reported dropped frames, interrupted video, and poor coordination of video and audio. On January 20, 2009, the Internet experienced an unheralded meltdown that generally escaped public notice or concern. It was the inauguration day of Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. More than 10 million people tried to watch the event on the Internet, but many were not able to view the live video feed because the Internet did not have the capacity to handle the traffic. Not only did 3 million users not receive any video, but many of the 7 million who were able to establish a connection were treated to burpy audio, freeze-frame video, and lost backgrounds. Cable and broadcast television viewers had no problem. Today you can check your bandwidth capacity by looking carefully at movies that you stream at home. On a busy Friday or Saturday night, the average Internet home viewer will experience stuttering video and sound. This is hardly the stuff of a bright future for mass audience video over the Web. In todayâ€™s broadband environment, the threshold of patience is probably much lower than even a few seconds. Increased video and audio customer expectations are bad news for anyone seeking to use
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