MOKENA, Illinois: Remember the so-called millennium bug? As the year 2000 approached the planet was put on yellow alert, with hundreds of thousands of businesses parting with eyewatering sums to protect themselves against a threat that never was.

Now US-headquartered Nemertes Research Group is warning that cyber-doomsday looms again, because by 2010 the worldwide web will be unable to cope with the volumes of information it processes.

A year-long long study by the company into data flows and internet infrastructure claims severe bottlenecks could arise within the next three to five years; and that investment in the region of $137 billion (€92.6bn; £66.5bn) is needed to upgrade broadband networks.

Nemertes estimates that in the US alone between $42bn and $55bn is needed to bridge the gap between capacity and demand.

The report stops short of predicting total meltdown, but warns that innovation could be stifled: "The next Google, YouTube, or Amazon might not arise, not because of a lack of demand, but due to an inability to fulfil that demand.

"Rather like osteoporosis, the underinvestment in infrastructure will painlessly and invisibly suck competitiveness out of the economy."

The report was part-funded by the Internet Innovation Alliance which campaigns for universal broadband in the US.

Data sourced from The Times of India; additional content by WARC staff