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Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Technical Problems Increase as the Internet Runs Out of Space

Internet infrastructure

(Photo : pictures.reuters.com) A computer engineer checks equipment at an internet service provider

You might have encountered slow internet speeds with pages loading strangely or not at all on Aug. 12.

You weren't alone. Web users around the globe experienced distinct connection problems on major websites.

The bad news for all of us it that this glitch can only get worse. 

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Online sales service eBay collapsed for hours with users complaining about lost business after being unable to access their accounts.

eBay didn't clarify the exact nature of the problem but said it was due to "upstream on internet service provider" issues.

Password manager LastPass was also affected by the connection problem, leaving users in the lurch after a massive outage lasting several hours.

The problem has something to do with one of the internet's crucial standards: the Border Gateway Protocol or BGP.

BGP, which is dubbed as the "route map," is used by online companies and various large networks to exchange data with each other.

When users visit a website, the data bounces through machines belonging to companies and organization all over the world, said the online newspaper, The Telegraph. 

Machines called routers keep a table of trusted routes through the web.

But these tables of trusted routes has been constantly growing as the internet becomes more complex and more information is needed to be stored to maintain the accurate exchange of data between routers.

New devices such as smartphones and tablets also require a significant amount of extra traffic in the web.

Since older routers were designed with an arbitrary 512,000 route limit, routers struggle with the lack of memory and processing power.

With the routers hitting their limits, the effect is that internet providers experience outages. Host companies have problems and websites either collapse or slow down.

More efficient methods have already been implemented, however, but aren't major solutions to the problem.

Replacing routers will impose expensive and significant costs thandat will not happen overnight.

"This is likely to happen more," said CEO James Gill of the internet support provider GoSquared.

"As there are more devices and fewer infrastructures, this definitely won't be the last we hear of BGP outages."

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