Net won't have meltdown - report

UK corporate Internet access is booming and whispers of an imminent Net meltdown are overcooked, according to a new report.

Durlacher, a hi-tech investment bank that conducts quarterly reviews of Internet penetration, said corporate access is more than doubling annually. There were 4,420 connections in April 1997 compared to 1,650 in September 1995, according to the firm. UUNet continues to dominate with a 33 per cent market share ahead of BT Net (12 per cent), Demon Internet (11 per cent), PSInet and INS.

Edward Forwood, a spokesman for Durlacher, said Net meltdown will be avoided by heavy European infrastructure investment, intercontinental links and new technologies. Examples of heavy investment include BT's plan to upgrade its SMDS UK backbone to Frame Relay and launch its Cellstream ATM network next year; and a series of 10Gb/sec and 40Gb/sec international links. Technology breakthroughs expected to occur inside twelve months include reservation protocol (a premium level of service that holds open a channel for the duration of a call), multicasting and new switching and routing techniques including Cisco's 80Gb/sec 'Big Fast Router'. "We're looking at at least a ten-fold increase [in bandwidth] to 1998, so there are unlikely to be bottlenecks," Forwood said.

Forwood added that new bandwidth opportunities will lead to a new sales structure for Net access: "The days of paying fixed prices for dial-up and corporate access are over. People will pay for the bandwidth they want."

Other interesting findings included the discovery that the number of intranets doubled in five months, and 41 per cent of UK companies now consider Web access as important a feature of the Net as universal e-mail.