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Development of Future Networking Technologies

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Telecommunications expert Frank Panzarino discusses how a single network managing all telecommunications needs (such as voice, video, and data) would be a cost-effective way for the industry to evolve and improve.
This chapter is from the book


OK, we've covered everything from telephones to televisions and personal computers. So what's left? Well, the visionaries have been busy with the next wave of telecommunications products and services designed to enhance our living and, they hope, capture market share.

Internet telecommunications technology has been hot and will continue to dominate the interest of both consumers and business professionals alike. Bandwidth is still the major bottleneck for many of us accessing the Internet, so new transmission methods must be devised. These transmission methods must provide us with inexpensive bandwidth that is easy to use and easy to set up.

This chapter is divided into six sections, followed by a salute to the future and my farewell to this book.

Section one looks at potential Internet development starting with Internet2 and the latest version of Internet protocol IPV6.

Section two examines high-speed transmission technologies, which include development of fiber transmission lines and some new backbone cable technology called photonic fiber.

Section three is dedicated to broadcast transmission or enhancements to radio and television as we know it today. Certainly, there has been much discussion regarding HDTV transmission systems, which will eventually replace existing television sets. Also, radio begins to move up to the digital age with digital satellite radio.

Section four looks at wireless broadband technologies that are competing with each other to provide local access to the Internet and video. Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS), Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS), and Wireless Local Loop (WLL) are examined. This section also looks at some high-flying approaches to providing high-speed bandwidth to your home or small business.

Section five focuses on the PC and local access, specifically, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth wireless technology.

The last main section, section six, is the foundation of the future: telecommunications convergence. The dictionary definition of convergence is to move to one point. A good example of this is the public switched telephone network (PSTN), which may one day become part of the Internet with high-speed data networking services.

To the future and beyond...

Internet Technology Development

Several problems are associated with today's Internet technology. One, there are too many bottlenecks in the current system. Many users have slow dial-up connections and cannot use streaming multimedia applications. We are also running out of Internet addresses (TCP/IP) so protocol enhancements are needed.

Internet2 capabilities, introduced by then Vice President Albert Gore in 1998, was a first step in experimenting with the next generation Internet. It is a cooperative effort between the federal government, colleges, and universities. Private companies such as Lucent, Cisco, and Nortel are contributors to the Internet2 project.

Today's Internet uses IPV4, which is more than twenty years old. IPV4 has supported us for a long time, but it is starting to show signs of its age. A major problem is the limited number of IPV4 addresses to support the Internet for now and for the future.


Since 1996, Internet2 has provided extremely fast connections for colleges and universities only. The purpose of Internet2 is to deploy advanced network applications and technologies, accelerating the creation of tomorrow's Internet. Internet2 is looking to recreate the partnership among educational institutions, industry, and government that fostered today's Internet back in the late 1960s.

The Internet2 network is not available to the general public. The primary goals of Internet2 are to do the following:

  • Create a leading-edge network capability for research and development.

  • Enable testing of new fiber products and routers.

  • Create new network services and applications for the standard Internet.

The network uses high bandwidth backbone fiber similar to the standard Internet. The basic difference between the standard Internet and Internet2 is the number of users. Today's Internet2 network supports 3 million users. In contrast, the standard Internet supports hundreds of millions of users.

The minimum connection speed for Internet2 is 155 Mbps. The network is designed with a minimum number of "hops" between routers, creating even faster connections.

Some experimental testing with Internet2 technology is as follows:

  • Medical—3D Brain Mapping: Allows real-time visualization of brain activity during visual and memory tasks. Internet2 allows computers to link together at a high rate of speed to exchange information.

  • Medical—Remote Medical Specialist Evaluation: Most medical evaluations can be completed after review of a patient's image by a non-physician at a reading center. Some evaluations, however, require even further review by a supervising specialist. Internet transmission with a guaranteed quality of service and high bandwidth supports real-time interaction among non-physician experts and supervising physicians. Both groups share large image data sets and finalize the evaluation by using Internet2.

  • Entertainment—Advanced Digital Video: Internet2 allows for high-quality presentation of video that is not currently available on the standard Internet. Internet2 also provides interactive 2-way digital video, which is not possible with the traditional first-generation Internet services.

  • Educational—Remote Instruction and Teaching: Internet2 can link multiple multimedia classroom sessions, providing development of educational materials between two geographically separate institutions. Real-time interaction between students and teachers can be formulated with Internet2.

  • Astronomy—Remote Telescope Manipulation: With Internet2, an astronomer in Amsterdam can remotely control a telescope in Hawaii and then participate in an international, full-speed, full-motion videoconference to discuss his or her findings.

Remote interactivity is one of the key features of Internet2. As previously mentioned, doctors can remotely supervise a medical procedure, astronomers can remotely view the contents of a telescope, teachers can remotely instruct a classroom. It is a very powerful scientific and educational medium (Figure 10.1).

Figure 10.1Figure 10.1 Internet2 video conference.

Internet2 may one day become the Internet of the future. In fact, there is already some talk about Internet3 development, with even higher processing speeds than presently available with Internet2.

Internet Protocol Version 6

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6) was developed to fix problems that are associated with today's Internet or IPV4. IPV6 also adds enhancements such as automatic routing and network reconfigurations. This new protocol will eventually replace IPV4, and the two will coexist for several years until a complete transition is made. In fact, IPV6 includes a transition mechanism that provides direct interoperability between IPV4 and IPV6 hosts. It is expected that a full transition to IPV6 will take at least a decade.

The projected use of the Internet in the next few years will be for a much larger group of people. This doesn't include the projected convergence of the telecommunications, entertainment, home appliance, and computer industries, to name a few! (See the section "Convergence" in this chapter for more on convergence).

There are several major differences between IPV4 and IPV6. The first noticeable difference is the address size. IPV6 is 16 bytes long, providing us with a virtually unlimited supply of addresses. A second improvement with IPV6 is the size of the header. The header now contains 7 fields (13 in IPV4). The smaller header size allows for faster packet processing than ever before.

Another improvement with IPV6 is in the area of security. Privacy and security features are always of utmost concern.

IPV6 solves network addressing limitations by replacing IPV4's 32-bit address with a 128-bit address. Despite major advances, IPV6 has been slow to catch on and few commercial products supporting the new protocol are available.

As small pockets of IPV6 networks grow, they will merge into larger and larger pockets. Eventually, all of the IPV6 pockets will become one, and a new Internet will be fully deployed.

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