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Mark Cuban: The Internet Is Dead, Long Live The Intranet
/ July 29, 2007 2:45 pm

For some reason the fact that intranets can significantly outperform Internets and in particular THE Internet is a shocking concept. It shouldn't be. An intranet is a contained network managed to optimize the performance to meet the needs of the participants on the network. Your corporate network in your local office is an intranet. You probably have IT people working hard to make sure its up and as fast as they can make it.

Your home network is an intranet. Wired or wireless, you are probably able to get throughput that far exceeds the speed you get from your Internet connection.

The INTERNET on the other hand is owned by no one, optimized for no one. Whoever you buy your Internet connectivity from, particularly if you are a broadband customer, has a network that is physically, locally accessible through a persistent connection (as opposed to dialing in to a remote network). They do everything they possibly can to make it as fast as possible. Your speed and throughput is dependent on a variety of variables, the most important of which is the type of wire/fiber that connects your house to the network.

Their ability to control the quality of service and throughput you receive to your home disappears the minute your traffic leaves their network and is passed of ff on to the route that will take or request your bits to or from their destination.

Think of it as crossing the border between the USA and Mexico in a car. . Neither side cares about how fast the traffic of the other side gets through. If its busy, its busy. If its slow, its slow. Its not their primary concern.

This is exactly why your video buffers , websites timeout and downloads take forever. No one is responsible for making sure its fast.

The times you get the best performance are when the website or video providers put servers on your providers network. Its for this reason that content providers pay Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) like Akamai a premium to distribute content. Akamai has thousands of servers all across the net.

CDNs however are limited in the applications they can run. They are optimized to deliver websites and graphics and downloads. The same things they have been doing for 10 years . They are not a development platform

Which is exactly why the best years of the Internet are behind it. Before you get all mad at me, ask yourself this. What is the increase in your broadband speed THROUGHPUT over the past 1,2,5 or 10 years ? I went from about 200k in 1997 to about 800k (on a 3mbs advertised number) today. An increase of only 600k. True, its cheaper now than then, but 600k is only 600k. Most people think the throughput TO THE INTERNET of our home broadband connections will increase significantly over the next few years. It wont. Other than dropping fiber in the last mile, not much has changed in the last few years and unless you have fiber to your home, not much will change in the next 5 or more years. Face it folks, the Internet as a platform has stagnated. Its dead as a growth platform. Its like Microsoft windows. From about 1985 to 1995 it was a great platform and there was new software coming out continuously. When was the last time you got excited about a new piece of consumer software written for Windows ? Its a stagnant consumer platform. We switched to browsers for most of our PC activity. We are getting to the point where the browser on the net as a platform is becoming stagnant.

Now ask yourself what the maximum possible throughput of your Internet connection ? You probably are connected to a 100mbs or faster port on the other side of your "last mile".

The typical provider throttles you down from the maximum not because they cant support more speed on their network, but because they cant deliver more speed on to the INTERNET. If you get your Internet access from the same provider that you get digital TV from , that provider is already providing you more than 1gbs of throughput of service. Yep, there are 10s of millions of people who get more than 1gbs of throughput of traffic to their home. We just call it digital TV. All those channels that you can flip to take up a huge amount of bandwidth in aggregate. The limit on the amount of bandwidth they give you for Internet is not a physical limit , its a limit based on software, technology and business decisions.

So I asked myself, "Self, could that software change so that a new platform for applications that are built on 25mbs, 50mbs, 100mbs or even 1gbs are possible ? " The answer is yes.

Software is emerging that allows applications to be written that are optimized for very high speed. But those applications can only leverage high speeds on the broadband providers INTRANET. There is no network provider on the planet that can guarantee 100mbs throughput to some random website somewhere in the world. ' Put that website on the same physical network that you buy your Internet service from and in the next couple years your provider will be able to guarantee quality of service of 100mbs

Ive sat with several of these network providers and what I'm telling them, and I think they are listening and following through, is to offer a platform or intranet applications. A platform for applications that confirm that the user and application host are on the same network, or possibly even on the same network segment. Make 100mbs or higher throughput a guaranteed service level to that application.

When that happens, people a lot smarter than me will come up with applications that blow away anything we are seeing now. I dint care if you call it Web 10.0 or whatever, but the reality is that the applications we will see then will be amazing.

When it happens, we will look back at Internet applications and laugh. Kids will call you out with things like

"Did websites really time out? Did video really buffer and die even though it was limited in size and quality."

Mark Cuban

Note: This piece was originally published on Mark's blog Blog Maverick and is posted on DMW with the author's permission. Mark's bio can be viewed here. The views expressed in this post are the author’s own, and do not represent the views of Digital Media Wire.

Flickr photo credit: Naked Cyclist

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