Cat videos and other high-bandwidth content could clog the Internet within five years

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Cat videos could clog the Internet! Users' endless thirst for bandwidth could jam the pipes by 2020, but scientists (not cats) are working on the problem.

Credit: Melissa Riofrio/

The Internet is no stranger to technical limitations—it has been running out of IPv4 addresses for years—but researchers now say that the Internet could soon experience another crunch: Its physical infrastructure could soon be running at its maximum capacity.

According to New Scientist, the fiber optic cables that make up the Internet’s Backbone have a maximum data capacity of about 100 terabits per second: René-Jean Essiambre of Alcatel-Lucent says that those cables could reach that full capacity within five years.

It sounds a little scary, but we have some time to address this looming crisis. And researchers are working toward doing just that: A melding of minds took place last week at the Royal Society in London where Internet experts discussed ways to keep the Internet running smoothly. The group discussed several ideas, New Scientist says, ranging from methods to reduce signal interference to new kinds of fibers that “contain multiple cores for transmitting data.”

Why this matters: There’s a big difference between discussing techniques and theoretical concepts at a conference and actually putting said techniques into practice in the real world, but hopefully last week’s discussion serves a first step toward bolstering the Internet—and ensuring we continue to get our fill of cat memes.

This story, "Cat videos and other high-bandwidth content could clog the Internet within five years" was originally published by PCWorld.