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Overloading the Network

Another challenge the network administrator may face is the increasing load on the company's network backbone. Professional technology-tracking companies like Gartner Group and META warn their clients that if their network is not moving toward support for Voice/Video over IP (VoIP), the technology may pass them by.

Intranets (company-owned networks) are not the only ones that are suffering. The Internet is increasing the bandwidth but not at the same rate as the demand. The demand for information has pushed the technology beyond its current limits, and the demand has yet to level off. Again, the cause is the nature of the Internet: The user gains the perception that he or she solely owns the network segments from the computer to the host server. In reality, the connection is shared between hundreds or even millions of requests.

It's interesting to watch individuals try out simple tools such as Microsoft NetMeeting with voice and video. They're surprised that the voice and video streams sometimes don't synchronize or that there's a time lag. They believe that the connection should be like that of a telephone. While expectations are higher than the technology can currently offer, the upgrade costs keep the movement carefully slow.

Internet service provider (ISP) companies have to balance the costs to upgrade their infrastructure with the return on investment. Ironically, in order to get the return (without raising the price), more customers have to subscribe. More subscribers means more demand and less bandwidth. The incremental performance increases will continue to be barely perceptible.

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