Moore's Law of Internet Latency
(first postulated in 1994 - Still true!)
Moore's Law of Internet Latency states that:
As long as Internet users do not pay for the absolute
(integrated over time) amount of data bandwidth which they consume (bytes per month),
Internet service quality (latency) will continue to be variable and often poor.
Analysis - Information User Behavior
(1) Users are ultimately limited by the total bandwidth
of their individual connection, a technology/cost factor. The speed of this connection is
rising very rapidly due to technological innovation and rapid capital investment.
(2) The only economic cost that a user experiences for
marginal increases in bandwidth usage(below the fixed limit) is in latency - a slowing of
the response time for that user. Thus in this economic system, the unit of cost is
(3) A user's marginal increase in bandwidth usage inflicts
costs on others, but the user does not experience this cost directly
(4) A user exhibits a highly elastic demand for
(5) Thus, a user increase his bandwidth consumption
until his cost (latency) and demand (highly elastic) balance.
Analysis of Information Provider Behavior
(1) Information providers are limited in the bandwidth
which they provide by the costs of their internet connection and their server systems.
(2)Competition and opportunity will compel information
providers will strive to increase the amount and quality of information which they provide
to each user. For example:
Imagine a service which provides beach front ambiance
to one's computer or (in the future) a flat screen "picture window." This would
include full motion, extremely high resolution video, and multi-channel audio. This
service might be paid for by unobtrusive advertising, or by monthly charges. Such a
service would consume tens of megabits per second per window. If bandwidth is inexpensive
enough, this service will be affordable to many users.
Or, consider an advertiser supported service that
chooses to put full motion high resolution video advertisements on it's web site. This is
driven by the proven advertiser desire to provide the most impact with an advertisement
(3) An information provider's marginal increase in
bandwidth usage inflicts costs on others, but *may* not inflict this cost on the provider.
(4) An information provider may be less elastic in his
demand - a given enterprise may not be practical without a certain level of bandwidth
usage. However, the set of all potential information providers exhibits highly
(1) This thesis indicates that George Gilder's
widely published prediction that bandwidth will become very large in the near future does
not guarantee that latency will be any better than it is today!
(2) [added 2021] In the late 1990's, George Gilder claimed that bandwidth to the home would rapidly increase very soon as fiber was laid. I told him that I doubted it - that the "last mile" cost of fiber would prevent fiber-to-the-home from happening any time soon. Gilder was wrong. We now (2021) see fiber-to-the-home happening but it is still far from universal. I don't have it, for example.