Time to say goodbye to unlimited Internet?/Est-ce la fin de l’Internet illimité pour tous?

This past January, Deloitte once again published its annual predictions to help us understand – and plan for – upcoming changes in Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT). According to its report entitled This way to the future, “it’s the end of the line for unlimited Internet”. You would expect such news to make waves, but strangely it only got a passing mention in a few select outlets.

In Canada and elsewhere around the world “The demand for data has already seen many mobile phone networks ease away from the ‘all-you-can-eat’ world and 2012 could be the year that a similar trend occurs in fixed-line broadband”[1]. In fact, demand in Canada has been growing at 30 percent per year, forcing the three big players in this market – Bell, Telus and Rogers – to react by throttling speeds and charging extra for data access during peak hours.

There are some who question the relevance of having Optical Regional Advanced Networks (ORANs) in place exclusively for research and education (R&E) institutions when large telecommunications companies could just as easily serve that community. I would respond by pointing out that research requires sharing large quantities of data with other institutions located in Canada and abroad, while education increasingly relies on high bandwidth real-time applications such as videoconferencing.

ORANs were created to address those needs and provide a way for R&E institutions to bypass any caps or limits commercial access providers might impose on traffic, even during peak times. Three areas in particular benefit from this initiative. Firstly, R&E institutions are able to share their discoveries with each other on their own private networks. Secondly, these institutions can directly access marquee content providers such as Google and Amazon, and bypass commercial Internet providers. Thirdly, educational institutions can enjoy a minimum of interference in their communications with their student population thanks to Internet exchange points such as QIX™ Service and TORIX. As members of RISQ, educational institutions connect to ORANs for their communications. Furthermore, part of their communications with their student population automatically connects through R&E networks.

Finally, while the private sector is rapidly adopting cloud computing in order to reduce its operational costs, this shift does not alleviate the increasing strain on commercial networks – quite the opposite, in fact. Thankfully, ORAN members do not need to concern themselves with such issues, since they will enjoy direct and reliable access to cloud computing providers, just as they benefit from a similar access to content providers today.


[1] This way to the future, Canadian TMT Predictions 2012. Deloitte

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

En janvier dernier, Deloitte a publié, comme chaque année, ses prédictions pour nous permettre de suivre, ou de survivre, aux principales tendances dans le secteur des technologies, des médias et des télécommunications (TMT). Son dernier rapport, intitulé En route vers l’avenir, prédit que « C’est la fin de l’Internet illimité ». Une petite bombe qui est passée presque inaperçue chez le consommateur non averti.

Au Canada, comme ailleurs dans le monde, « L’importance de la demande de données pousse déjà de nombreux réseaux de téléphonie mobile à restreindre le volume illimité de téléchargements et une tendance similaire pourrait se manifester en 2012 pour les lignes fixes »[1]. Les principaux Telco, Bell, Telus et Rogers contrôlent le marché canadien. Constatant une hausse de la demande de 30 % par année, il leur est venu l’idée d’écraser quelques orteils et d’imposer des tickets modérateurs pour soulager la congestion des réseaux aux heures de pointe.

On nous demande souvent ce que les réseaux optiques de recherche évolués, les RORES, apportent de plus au secteur de l’éducation et de la recherche que les grands télécommunicateurs ne peuvent leur offrir. La recherche implique le partage d’immenses quantités de données entre institutions canadiennes et internationales. La formation requiert l’accès à diverses applications, dont certaines en temps réel, telle la vidéoconférence.

Pour répondre à ces besoins spécifiques, les RORES permettent à leurs membres d’échanger avec d’autres établissements de R&E, d’accéder à des fournisseurs de contenu ou de communiquer avec leurs étudiants en contournant ou en évitant l’Internet commercial. Les établissements d’enseignement et de recherche peuvent échanger entre eux en utilisant principalement les RORES. Ils ne passent pas par l’Internet commercial et ne sont limités par aucun ralentissement de trafic, même aux heures de pointe. Pour atteindre les grands fournisseurs de contenu, comme Google
ou Amazon, les établissements de R&E bénéficient d’un accès direct, contournant l’Internet commercial. Dans les échanges entre établissements d’enseignement et étudiants, il est possible, encore une fois, de limiter au minimum les intermédiaires, grâce à l’existence de points d’échangeur Internet comme le Service QIXMC ou le TORIX. En tant que membres du RISQ, les établissements d’enseignement passent par les RORES. Une partie des échanges établissements-étudiants passent donc directement sur les réseaux privés de R&E.

En conclusion, si l’essor fulgurant des technologies de l’information pousse les entreprises et autres organisations à se tourner de plus en plus vers l’informatique en nuage pour réduire leurs coûts opérationnels, cela ne leur permettra pas d’éviter la congestion des réseaux publics. Au contraire, on verra la demande en bande passante exploser. Les membres des RORES ne feront pas face
à cette congestion, puisqu’ils bénéficieront d’un accès direct aux fournisseurs d’informatique en nuage, comme dans le cas des fournisseurs de contenu.


[1] Deloitte. En route vers l’avenir, Prédictions TMT canadiennes 2012.

3 Responses to Time to say goodbye to unlimited Internet?/Est-ce la fin de l’Internet illimité pour tous?

  1. It was so nice to see two languages on the same thread, so thanks for that.

    This really is an interesting one, in light of the conversations going on around the NRENs in each country about their future. The terena ‘aspire’ one being the latest. http://www.terena.org/activities/aspire/

    It’s interesting to see this regional centric post parrallel much the same issues as terena must on a continental basis. But I don’t thnk these arguments hold water these days. The two arguments which blow the old ideas about R&E specialist networks away is;
    1. All research & education is global thanks to the World Wide web, regardless of age.
    2. Education /research is no longer something which happens just within an institution (or its network). The line “R&E institutions are able to share their discoveries with each other on their own private networks” displays the awry thinking in a world where disciplinary-centric global groups are constantly mobile.

    I was particularly alarmed at the thought that someone in an NREN/OREN might believe “demand in Canada has been … forcing the three big players in this market …to react by throttling speeds and charging extra for data access during peak hours. I’m sure Bill would be horrified. http://billstarnaud.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/verizon-and-rogers-skirt-rules-on-break.html

    I take it that where it says “Furthermore, part of their communications with their student population automatically connects through R&E networks” it means that RISQ and its sisters have done a deal with one/two/three of the commercial mobile carriers to offer free access to students as they roam around the country, like the Italians, Japanese and others are beginning to do.

    • risqcommunications says:

      We thank you for your comments. We are pleased to publish in both French and English.

      However, regarding the upcoming extra charge for data access during peak hours that must be applied by the three big mobile players in the market, we invite you to consult Deloitte 2012 TMT report This way to the future. You should find these predictions interesting and find answers to your interrogations.

      Concerning our statement on the communications between R&E institutions and their student population that automatically connects through R&E networks”… If you look back at the article, we were refering to Internet exchange points such as QIX™ Service and TORIX. It doesn’t concern mobile services or mobile carriers at all. RISQ, and other ORANS, don’t offer mobile services. We were just drawing a parallel between mobile services networks traffic shaping policies and advanced networks policies.

  2. Thanks for the feedback.

    “We were just drawing a parallel between mobile services networks traffic shaping policies and advanced networks policies”. Yes this is the common factor for most edu/research institutions, especially in countries where students are primarily tapping into the institutional networks via distance learning. e.g. One can attend a video conference within the institution but can’t (afford to) when their on the outside.

    That’s why one of the more progressive NRENs is preparing to bridge the gap between their R&E silos and “their” increasingly mobile inhabitants. http://www.surfnet.nl/en/nieuws/Pages/testenvironment.aspx

    Hopefully, we’ll see some more NREN/OREN begin to bridge the gap between policy makers.

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