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An internet blocked with bloat

by Giles Turnbull -- 2000/10/23

Web pages are getting too fat and bloated to be useful to anyone. And that's despite all the high bandwidth connections everyone's supposed to be using.

Two of the web's most popular front pages, Yahoo and Lycos, manage to cram everything into just 37KB and 30KB, and that's the kind of benchmark the rest of us should be aiming for, says a report by Byte Level Research.

This amusing round-up of expert opinion shows some of the fattest sites are approaching the 500KB mark. Google manages a "wafer-thin" 12KB.

But hang on a minute, do we still need to be abiding by these rules? It all seems so ... 1998. We have access to high-bandwidth connections now, right? We can download as much as we want.

The truth is that the fat pipe dreams of the late 1990s have not yet become reality. Sure, a few people use fat pipes (and pay fat fees to do so) but high bandwidth remains stubbornly niche-market at the moment.

And ultimately it's the wider network we have to think about, not just our own local connections. Despite all the investment in cable connections in the last decade, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the world's consumer telephone networks, and crucially the ISP's networks, can handle the strain of always-on, high-bandwidth connections for everybody.

Until they do, we're stuck with small pages - or more often than not, sitting and twiddling our thumbs while we wait for the fat sites to download.