The prospect of having the Internet suddenly disappear, leaving us in a wasteland of masturbating to our own lame imaginations, isn't just the basis for a hilarious South Park episode. It's coming! So says one biased goon for the horrible, horrible AT&T. "U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T has claimed that, without investment, the Internet's current network architecture will reach the limits of its capacity by 2010. Speaking at a Westminster eForum on Web 2.0 this week in London, Jim Cicconi, vice president of legislative affairs for AT&T, warned that the current systems that constitute the Internet will not be able to cope with the increasing amounts of video and user-generated content being uploaded."

"The surge in online content is at the center of the most dramatic changes affecting the Internet today," he said. "In three years' time, 20 typical households will generate more traffic than the entire Internet today."

"Cicconi, who was speaking at the event as part of a wider series of meetings with U.K. government officials, said that at least $55 billion worth of investment was needed in new infrastructure in the next three years in the U.S. alone, with the figure rising to $130 billion to improve the network worldwide. 'We are going to be butting up against the physical capacity of the Internet by 2010,' he said."

He also took a moment to kick all you Matrix geeks in the ass. "There is nothing magic or ethereal about the Internet-it is no more ethereal than the highway system. It is not created by an act of God, but upgraded and maintained by private investors." [CNET News]