The internet is heading towards a ‘capacity crunch’ as it fails to keep up with our demand for ever faster data, scientists have warned. Leading engineers, physicists and telecoms firms have been summoned to a meeting at London’s Royal Society later this month, to discuss what can be done to avert a web crisis. The boom of internet television, streaming services and ever-more powerful computers has increased the strain on our communications infrastructure. The cables and fibre optics that send information to our laptops, smartphones and tablets will have reached their limit within eight years, experts warn.

So far, engineers have managed to keep ahead of demand, increasing internet speeds 50-fold in the last decade alone. In 2005, broadband internet had a maximum speed of 2 Megabits per second. Today 100Mb-per-second download speeds are available in many parts of the country. But experts warn that science has reached its limit – that fibre optics can take no more data. The result, according to Professor Andrew Ellis, who has co-organised the Royal Society meeting on May 11, will be higher internet bills. Professor Ellis, of Aston University in Birmingham, told the Daily Mail: ‘We are starting to reach the point in the research lab where we can’t get any more data into a single optical fibre. ‘The intensity is the same as if you were standing right up against the sun. ‘The deployment to market is about six to eight years behind the research lab – so within eight years that will be it, we can’t get any more data in. MORE