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The Series of Tubes Is Already Full/Full/Will Be Full Soon! Log Off… No, Too Late!

Phillip Dampier May 5, 2009 Broadband "Shortage", Public Policy & Gov't 6 Comments

The same old fundamental misunderstandings about the Internet that got former Sen. Stevens into so much trouble with his pronouncement that the Internet was a “series of tubes” that were being filled up by commercial providers, which is somehow why we cannot be for net neutrality, comes back time and time again with alarmist rhetoric about exafloods, brownouts, global data slowdowns, and the risk of the collapse of the Internet itself.

Just you wait and see.

And folks have been waiting and seeing since 1996:

How can we be saved from the broadband collapse, drowning in exaflood tidal waves and zetaflood cataclysms when the funeral service was held more than a decade ago?

Using fear to advance a corporate or marketing agenda is hardly a new concept.  Unless we do “x,” “y” will happen and ruin your life has been used along with alarmist rhetoric to justify virtually everything.  For broadband usage capping and metered service, it’s front and center.  In fact, wherever service is lousy with limitations and someone has their hand out looking for more of your money, you can be sure the “clogged tubes” argument is going to be a big part of the snowjob.

Snow isn’t a big problem in Australia, but that doesn’t stop the blizzard of nonsense from showing up down under, where the Internet is a particularly lousy experience for Aussies forced to endure draconian caps from monopolistic providers.  Exceed your caps there and your connection slows to near-dial-up speeds.  Never trust a guy in a ludicrously loud shirt, nor someone who channels Sen. Stevens in calling the whole thing a series of “pipes.”  Maybe Pete Blasina got the shirt from Cisco, who he also conveniently notes is supplying switches to save us from impending doom.  They also happened to supply him with a lot of his talking points.  The bit about YouTube traffic in one month equaling Internet consumption in 2000 came from them.

Duncan Riley (who was the source for the history lesson on exaflood threats) does a fine job debunking the same nonsense we have to endure in North America.

The story is nearly always the same: telcos and infrastructure companies fund research that finds that the latest trend online at the time (audio, video, HD video, P2P, Sykpe and social networking are some previously used) is too much for the Internet to handle. The reasons behind the studies are usually variations on a theme: Government regulation or Government financial support. Which is where we start our story on how Sunrise played a role in the latest outbreak of industry astroturfing.

But how did a primarily American focused astroturfing campaign end up be served to Australians on breakfast television?

The outbreak of “Internet is full” stories this time was remarkably subdued. The last research paper was released in November 2008, which might account for part of the silence, although Sunrise says there’s a new report coming (the contents year to year ultimately deliver nearly the same doom and gloom message.) Given strong coverage of the 2007 outbreak as being an astroturfing campaign, news rooms may have been a little wiser this time round.

Duncan doesn’t realize the Internet is Full Crisis ’09 started last week with the latest Nemertes report we debunked a few days ago as a whole lot of industry-sponsored nonsense.  But it’s remarkable the astroturf campaigns have enough industry cash behind them to push this stuff worldwide.  Duncan’s piece links some other outbreaks of astroturfing so check it out.

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12 years ago

“T3h Interwebz iz clogged?!” /sarcasm

Heh, I laugh every time I read one of these articles. If the “tubes” were full, then I wouldn’t be gaming nor pulling down huge files on a daily basis. The backbones are highly redundant and are quite underused depending on where you go in your route. Sure, the last mile may be full and plugged up with “lolcats”, YouTube, torrents, games, Netflix, etc, but the consumers of course aren’t to blame, it’s the Internet providers 🙂

12 years ago

Sorry, can’t help myself:

O NOES! Teh InterWeb is going down the TUBEZ!


12 years ago

Did anyone about fall asleep during both of those videos? The only thing that kept me going was the ridiculous conjecture. Looks like “the sky is falling” crowd is everywhere to be found nowadays. Until some independent research is done on this and results published, I am not going to believe any of these outlandish claims the internet is out ong out of pipe.

12 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Not me, no. I just went to another article here. But yes, I did get bored listening to the video.

12 years ago

Y2K fearmonger remix

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