Verizon, Others Look to a Bandwidth-Rich, Intelligent Future

Carl Weinschenk

This CNET piece, which highlights a day at Verizon's Basking Ridge development facility, describes applications that might be available in the near term, including radically expanded and linked instant messaging and presence, on-demand gaming, highly interactive advertising, cellular-to-wireless convergence and advanced home networking. None of these applications differs radically from that available today. Indeed, the author points out that they all already are possible, though not offered by Verizon.

 

The longer term future of the Internet -- and the applications that ride upon it -- are even more interesting. The company, which is spending billions on its FiOS build-out, is putting the pedal to the fiber, so to speak. Earlier this month, the carrier announced a symmetrical service option in which as much as 20 megabits per second (Mbps) of capacity is available in both the downstream (central office to premise) and upstream (premise to central office) directions. This approach goes hand in glove with sophisticated future offerings.

 

It is important to look at more ambitious high-technology evolution to understand where things are headed. Advances on this level are soon felt -- albeit more subtly -- at the business and, ultimately, consumer level. In another sign that Verizon understands the need for speed, the carrier's business arm announced this week that it is joining Internet2 as a corporate member. The idea is to work with the consortium of research and academic organizations in advanced optical networking and network-security issues. Internet2 was formed in 1996.

 

Internet2 isn't standing still either. Earlier this month, the consortium said it is increasing the speed limit from 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) to 100 Gbps by simultaneously sending data on 10 wavelengths of light, according to this AP story on Forbes. The changes are meant to meet demand anticipated from the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research that is set to open next May in Geneva. Equipment changes that will quadruple the 100 Gbps capacity likely will begin in 12 to 18 months, the story says.

 

Bandwidth capability is deeply related to the nature of the Internet. We are at the end of what some folks call Web 1.0. This refers to a generally passive and inert network optimized for downloading data. The emerging model -- Web 2.0 -- is highly interactive and collaborative.


 

Web 2.0 isn't totally here yet, so naturally, the best thing is to start hyping Web 3.0. Media Life says it likely will feature a high level of intelligence within the Web. Agents or software within the network will be able to determine what people want and need -- perhaps before they know themselves. (A simple example would be the automatic notification of a commuter's device that the highway he or she usually takes is closed, along with a list of alternative routes.) The writer suggests several other elements that could characterize Web 3.0, including machine-to-machine communications.

 

Though Web 2.0 isn't fully here yet, that isn't stopping folks from sniping over Web 3.0. CRN discusses attitudes toward the Web 3.0 -- also called the Semantic Web -- on display at the Web 2.0 conference last month in San Francisco. Radar Networks, which displayed its Twine service, was among companies introducing what they called Web 3.0 applications. However, somebody who apparently works at both Cootronics and FlickIM (those Web 3.0 folks apparently get around) was skeptical, the story says.

 

The Internet has always evolved rapidly. Expanding broadband speeds and sophisticated software make it seem that we are on the precipice of startling change judged even by the existing standards.



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