Internet access could be rationed as the power grid and network 'struggles to cope'

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Internet access may have to be rationed because the UK power grid and communications network cannot cope with demand from consumers.

This is what the Royal Society in London will be told next week when industry experts meet to discuss the 'capacity crunch' that power and data networks are moving towards, as demand for web access soars.

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According to Professor Andrew Ellis, an expert in optical communications, at the rate consumers are using the web, existing cables will reach their data capacity limit by the end of the decade, leading to a "potentially disastrous capacity crunch".

Credit: PA

Extra cables, upgrading the UK data network to fibre-optic cables and other technological advances have increased the ability of existing networks to deal with more data.

But scientists are suggesting cables are reaching their physical limit because of the rapid increase in popularity of web-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.

BT's head of optical access, Professor Andrew Lord, who will take part in the conference, said: