1. ITV Report

Internet 'will not need to be rationed', BT says, amid fears increasing use will cause 'data crunch'

Experts from telecoms giant BT have hit back at suggestions the internet may have to be rationed in future because of the rapid growth in the number of users.

BT optical researcher Prof Andrew Lord said while the firm had seen an "exponential growth" in internet use, current infrastructure was more than capable of dealing with demand.

It was suggested that the current cable network would reach capacity by the end of the decade Credit: PA

Speaking at the opening of a Royal Society conference in London discussing the impact of increases in data usage, Prof Lord revealed BT had run tests which suggested its network had the ability to cope with the UK's entire internet consumption.

It comes after one of the conference organisers, Aston University optical communications expert Prof Andrew Ellis, warned that existing cables would reach their physical capacity limit by the end of the decade.

He suggested that the current rate of consumption pointed to a "potentially disastrous capacity crunch" within just a few years.

The amount of time people in the UK are spending online has doubled over the past 10 years to 20 hours a week on average, according to research published by Ofcom today.

The report said the rise of smartphones and internet-enabled tablets were partly responsible for the increase.

The rise of smartphones and tablets are said to be responsible for the rise Credit: PA

But Prof Lord said the the system was "up to speed" with what was needed at the moment - and providers would devise solutions should a problem arise in future.

I don't see a crisis in the internet - I don't see a crunch coming. I can see that if you go to the extreme numbers you can break it, but of course you can always do that. You just have to wait long enough for it to break.

Content delivery people are very creative and can find different ways around a problem. Just an example; if everybody's driving down the motorway to get to Waitrose, and the traffic is full, I guarantee that in a year Tesco will build something nearer to you so you don't need to get stuck in that traffic jam.

It's exactly the same analogy, if content is getting expensive or difficult to get to, a content provider will just move it nearer.

– Prof Andrew Lord, BT