Thursday, June 19, 2008

Traffic Jams On The Information Superhighway Explained

The Harbor Freeway Interchange is the largest and tallest freeway interchange in Southern California. This massive 5-stack interchange connects the Century Freeway (I-105) with the Harbor Freeway (I-110). Nestled between its soaring ramps is a 3-level train and bus depot. Image Credit: g. s. george (2007)

Traffic Jams On The Information Superhighway Explained

In an article published in Britain’s leading financial publication, the Financial Times, the Chief Technology Officer of Nortel Systems does a pretty good job of explaining the current and future landscape of the demands consumers are placing on today’s internet.

The demand and applications requiring more data to be transferred in shorter periods of time combined with the availability and expansion of mobility devices, are having their effect on the efficiency and confidence in the structure of the whole of this New Media world.

If consumer and business applications are to be successful in the future, changes will need to take place in order to have a system that will deliver the desired communication requirements demanded by all who participate.

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This excerpted and edited from the Financial Times (UK) –

Satisfying the bandwidth monster in all of us
By John Roese - Published: June 18 2008 03:00 Last updated: June 18 2008 03:00

The internet today is much like a motorway or freeway, with its multiple lanes, on and off-ramps, and its ability to move large volumes of traffic made up of different types of vehicles from point A to B quite effectively most of the time.

More often than not, things run smoothly, but during rush hour, arteries get congested and traffic slows to a crawl, no matter what vehicle you drive.

At the heart of the internet are fat "pipes" - the fibre-optic equivalents of the LA Freeway - which can carry huge amounts of "traffic" in the form of voice, data, video and any combination thereof. The myriad on and off-ramps - connections that telecom service providers have hooked up to it - are not quite so fat or quite so fast.

The "vehicles" traveling over the internet form different-sized traffic streams; roughly speaking, smaller streams carry voice, medium-sized streams carry data such as e-mail with attachments and internet links, and monster streams carry video.

And, as on the LA Freeway, traffic jams and accidents on the internet can and do occur. In the internet world that can mean a delay in packets arriving at their destination - which, for an internet phone call can result in a voice sounding like a Dalek - or packets arriving without all the "passengers", potentially causing the video you are watching or the phone conversation you are having to terminate.

It is these traffic jams and accidents that are causing increasing concern for internet service providers (ISPs), who bear the brunt of the resulting end-user road rage. This is in spite of the fact that it is end users themselves wreaking the havoc as they embrace and demand services and applications that require increasingly large amounts of bandwidth.
Downloading a DVD on demand takes the equivalent bandwidth of 16m web page downloads, 400,000 e-mails, or nearly 2,000 iTunes songs (the size of web, music and e-mail files varies greatly, but these are realistic averages). And one movie on a dual-layer Blu-ray disk consumes the staggering equivalent of 100m web page downloads, 2.5m e-mails, and more than 12,000 iTunes songs. Suddenly, the images of consumers as bandwidth-hungry monsters and the LA Freeway as a car park spring to mind.
The new services are gobbling up huge amounts of bandwidth, to the point where we have virtually eliminated the "bandwidth glut" of unused capacity that was built up during the late 1990s dotcom boom. We are, in fact, speeding towards a "bandwidth crisis".
Anything that would benefit from being connected is being connected. This is not just mobile phones and PDAs, but home appliances, cars, clothing, industrial machinery and billions of small sensors that can be used for everything from monitoring patients' vital signs for remote diagnostics and emergency alerting, to environmental conditions and countless other items.

So, what can we do?

First, we need to expand the freeway but without the year-long roadworks that cause endless frustration.
This is something Nortel is working on. We are making it so that each road (that is - a single-strand of optical fibre) can support up to 80 lanes (called wavelengths in the telecom world). The result is that one road can move eight terabytes (thousand billion bytes) of information per second compared to less than one terabyte today. (To provide some context, the entire UK National Archive contains approximately 60 terabytes of data.)

Most importantly, this expansion can be achieved by upgrading existing fibre networks - without the delay, cost and inconvenience of new fibre roll-outs. As well as making the internet motorway bigger, it needs to be made more efficient, for example by replacing the "traffic lights" of legacy internet systems with "roundabouts" that keep traffic flowing, and by making the on-ramps much bigger.

Is there a way to sate the ravenous appetite of the bandwidth monster in us all?

No, not really. We have an insatiable - and natural - need to communicate with each other in as rich a way as possible and we will take advantage of every type of media in order to do so. That will never change.

But by applying breakthrough technology and by looking intelligently at the evolution of the internet, there is a way to ensure we never go hungry.
Reference Here>>

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