What's the number one problem plaguing the future of the Internet as we know (and love) it? If you guessed: spam, piracy, pornography, identity theft, or even video games you're somewhat close but still off. The answer might very well be routers.
All the fiber optic lines in the world are 100% useless without the routers to figure out which data packets go in which direction. So how did we arrive at this point? The answer is surprisingly simple:
“Due to the improvements in fiber technology, the cost of increasing raw bandwidth capacity has been decreasing about as fast as the traffic grows. Fiber, therefore, is no longer the problem. But now that fiber technology has advanced, we have a different problem: routing technology. Internet traffic is now growing much more quickly than the rate at which router cost is decreasing per bit. Traffic is doubling each year, while routers follow the semiconductor trend, dropping in cost per bit by one half every 18 months.
The cost of Internet capacity would therefore double every three years without some key new innovation. The economy could not support this for very long.”
Hopefully this will mean a reduction in profit for ISPs and not a severe hike in the prices for broadband service. Such a price increase could very well be the end of the world...of Warcraft.