Lightfest talk to warn about the future of the internet

Lightfest 2015

21 September 2015

The internet could be on the brink of a ‘capacity crunch’ that would force us to rethink the way we use it, according to an Aston academic.

Current technologies will reach their limits within the next eight years, Professor Andrew Ellis will warn in a talk at Lightfest 2015 at the Library of Birmingham this Friday (25 September), and without radical developments and rapid deployment of alternatives, capacity will be unable to match increasing demands. 

Professor Ellis, of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, said:  “Demand for internet capacity keeps soaring, and we’re now reaching the point where it’s increasingly difficult to stay ahead of that demand using current approaches. It’s incredible we’ve managed to stay ahead this long, but now researchers are finding they just cannot fit much more data down traditional fibre optic lines.

“Soon, unless we increase costs by deploying more fibres, we may need radical changes to the way we either use or distribute data if we are to overcome this capacity crunch. We should start having the conversation now – are consumers willing to accept higher charges for increased bandwidth or can we be more considered about the capacity we consume? Will we lay additional cables, or will we look to the likes of Netflix to help us manage demand?” 

Professor Ellis is speaking as part of a whole day of events showcasing the latest research, and demonstrating the ways in which light science plays a role in our lives. 

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock from the BBC’s The Sky at Night programme will showcase five amazing photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Professor Alessandro Farini from the University of Florence will also talk about how our brains interpret light and the indivisible relationship between light and art. 

Professor Sergei Turitsyn, co-organiser of Lightfest 2015, and also of the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies, added:  “Light science is the foundation for many things around us: from the smartphones in our pockets, to the tools of our manufacturing industry and many of the latest medical advancements. Our event is part of the UNESCO International Year of Light, and an opportunity to show to public impact and power of light science and technology. 

“People don’t always realise quite how close to our day to day lives these areas of research are, from internet capacity to art and music, we hope there’s something for people of all ages.” 

Lightfest 2015 is being held on Friday 25th September 2015 at the Library of Birmingham. Hosted by Aston University, the Library of Birmingham and the Flatpack Film Festival, the event is being funded by the European Commission as part of European Researchers’ Night, an event which takes place simultaneously in hundreds of cities across Europe. 

For more information, including a full programme of events and booking details for workshops and public lectures, please visit the website: