The innovation was to build a switching system into the network hardware and software itself that would replicate copies of a file as needed, taking that burden off of the servers of the company originating the Webcast.
In practice, that means Webcasters can send only one copy of a file, such as a video or audio clip, or even a piece of software, and the network will make a copy for each user that requests it.
Billions of bits of information
Right now, a copy has to be sent across the network every time a request comes in, and network capacity, or bandwidth, is used up very quickly.
"It's a bit of a solution in search of a problem," said analyst Jae Kim of Paul Kagan Associates. "It was worked on by a lot of forward-looking people who knew someday it would become necessary. But they didn't know what for. The proliferation of video on the Web ... is what's really going to drive it going forward.