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UK Net traffic could increase tenfold in two years, with broadband, video-on-demand and increasing business use of the Internet, driving growth.

This is the planning assumption of the London Internet Exchange (LINX), Europe's largest peering centre, which handles more than 90 per cent of the UK's Internet traffic. Bandwidth usage through the organisation has trebled in the last year.

LINX statistics, available here, show that it handles around 11.5Gbps at peak times of the day - which equates to 690,000 emails messages per second or almost 2,000 simultaneous broadcast-quality TV streams. Peak times are between 1400 and 1500 GMT. Average traffic flow is 8Gbps.

LINX chief executive John Souter said the slowdown in economic activity is unlikely to curtail the growth and he predicts traffic will at least double over the course of the next year, and could grow ten-fold over the next two years.

Traffic through the introduction of 3G handsets is not expected to have much of an effect for between 12-18 months, but will kick in soon after.

As well as expanding the use of existing technology to cope with the expected demand, LINX is deploying new technologies such as 10 gigabit Ethernet and IPv6. It is also promoting 'private peering' to give direct connections between the networks of participating ISPs.

Hardware from Extreme Networks and Foundry Networks which can handle 10 gigabits Ethernet is already in place (see diagram here) and LINX will use this to carry traffic between sites, over its fibre optic cable infrastructure, as soon as the standard ratification process is complete.

Longer term, LINX is evaluating the use of higher speed DWDM (Dense Wave Division Multiplex) technology, which unlike the upgrade from Gigabit to 10 gigabit Ethernet will involve the swap out of equipment.

LINX, a mutually owned organisation of 120 ISPs and content delivery service providers, is to invest £2 million over the next twelve months in new and improved infrastructure. It is also setting up a dedicated test and evaluation centre on Tooley Street, near London Bridge, to investigate new technologies and equipment. ®

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