I couldn't send a video file while I was in China because I had an extremely slow Internet connection. It was frustrating. Surely, you can relate to the feeling.
Last week, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced a new center that will work on making the Internet a thousand times faster than it is today.
With a next generation Ethernet system in place, sending videos or downloading high resolution pictures could be done in no time.
Researchers at Terabit Optical Ethernet Center (TOEC) are designing an optical fiber that would enable the next generation Ethernet and allow it to handle the bandwidth and speed necessary for video and cloud computing applications.
By 2020, the UCSB researchers hope to develop a 100 Terabit Ethernet.
Fiber optics is in many ways the brain of the Internet. Its glass fibers (the size of human hair) carry messages throughout the world, by sending light over long distances.
But this is where the efficiency breaks down - when routers are used to convert the optical signals to electrical ones and then convert the signals back again for transmission.
“We’re going to need much faster networking to handle the explosion in Internet traffic and support new large-scale applications like cloud computing,” said Daniel Blumenthal, director of TOEC, in a statement.
The next generation Ethernet will help companies deal with increasing Internet traffic.
The speed of the Ethernet connection isn't the only issue at hand. The next generation technology would help the large data centers be more energy efficient. When the data centers consume as much power as small cities, being greener will help companies save on costs.
This is not small peanuts. Internet traffic requirements double every two years.
There are a number of ways to increase the speed of the Internet - both in the lab and in the commercial space.
This summer, MIT researchers claimed to have a way to make the Internet run 100 to 1000 times faster, through the use of flow switching. If more people want to watch high-definition videos on their computers, then the cost of upgrading the routers with flow switching capabilities might make financial sense.
The Cisco VNI Forecast predicts that by 2014, some form of video will make up 91 percent of global consumer traffic. It would take two years to watch the amount of video that passes through the network per second. Plus, the predictions for cloud computing and mobile phone use is expected to contribute significantly to Internet traffic.
The New York Times reported on how companies plan on dealing with Internet traffic woes:
Next-generation systems that can handle this future traffic jam are being developed by many companies, including Ciena in Linthicum, Md., and Infinera in Sunnyvale, Calif. Alcatel-Lucent says it has begun to sell equipment that transmits up to 88 channels of information, each operating at 100 gigabits a second.
The capacity of the fiber optics cables will have to stay up to speed with our increasing Internet diet. But it looks like UCSB and its industry partners already know this.
Fiber optics revolutionized telephone communications. "What the wheel did for transport, the optical fiber did for telecommunications," one researcher said about the invention of fiber optics.
Hopefully, fiber optics will do the same for Internet speed.
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