The cables and fibre optics that relay information to our laptops, smartphones and tablets will have reached their limit within eight years, and fibre optics can take no more data from a single optical fibre, scientists warned.

"At the current usage rate, all of Britain's power supply could be consumed by internet use in just 20 years," scientists said. 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.

"We are starting to reach the point in the research lab where we can't get any more data into a single optical fibre," professor Andrew Ellis, who has co-organised the Royal Society meeting on May 11, was quoted as saying by leading daily.

"Demand is increasingly catching up. It is growing again and again, and it is harder and harder to keep ahead. We have done very well for many years to keep ahead. But we are getting to that point where we can't keep going for ever," he added.

The boom of internet television, streaming services and ever-more powerful computers has increased the strain on our communications infrastructure.

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 world.