NetAid set to break traffic records

Serious infrastructure will be needed to serve an estimated one billion viewers.

Internet routing behemoth Cisco, which is to provide the technical backbone for NetAid, is getting ready to cope with an estimated one billion hits on the day of the online charity's kickoff concert.

The Internet fund raising event -- scheduled to go live on 9 October -- involves numerous simultaneous concerts around the world that Cisco will broadcast live over the Net. It will be ten times bigger than anything previously organised on the Internet.

Lawrence Lang, Cisco VP of service-provider marketing, acknowledges this is not a venture to be taken lightly. "We are still learning and a lot of things may change before October 9," he says. "The worst case scenario would of course be that the site crashes on the day, and given the size of the event we have to be prepared." Cisco estimates that once the concert starts its servers will have to deal with up to 60 million hits an hour and a bandwidth-shaking 125,000 simultaneous live streams.

NetAid is aimed at not only raising money for the poorest countries in the world, but also increasing public awareness of the causes of poverty and establishing an ongoing Internet resource for donation and education.

Lang says this represents an important departure from previous Internet ventures. "The thing that keeps me awake at night is not really the thought that the site could crash, but how we can sustain public interest in the NetAid site," says Lang. "We hope that it will become an educational resource for schools."