The Internet's growing data richness could lead to major web traffic jams within a few years. Some research predicts that user demands—with the high-bandwidth needs of video clips, social networks, and online games—could top network capacity in short order. YouTube alone used more bandwidth in 2007 than the whole web did in 2000.
The situation is not one of looming disaster, the New York Times cautions, but rather of potential slow-downs on a local basis. Some observers aren’t concerned, convinced that router computers, fiber optic transmission, and other software are keeping up with the rate of traffic growth; others say only bigger corporate and government investment will let you surf faster in a few years.