Cisco promising faster Internet for video explosion

March 9, 2010 6:21:44 PM PST
A Silicon Valley giant is speeding up the Internet with a remarkable breakthrough in chip technology. Imagine being able to download every movie ever made in less than five minutes -- that is the kind of Internet speed Cisco is promising with its new chips.

People turn to the Internet for movies, entertainment, games and video. But all that data can grind the Internet to a snail's pace. Cisco came up with a way to push more data through the pipe.

Cisco calls it a critical step to making the Internet ready for video-hungry consumers, allowing the Internet to deliver video faster than people can watch it.

"You'll be able to, say, download the entire printed Library of Congress in just over a second," Kelly Ahuja, of the Cisco Routing Technology Group, said. "Also, this system is designed with enough capacity to be able to allow every man, woman and child in China to make a video call simultaneously."

The breakthrough is made possible by a new set of silicon chips Cisco developed in-house to push data three and a half times faster.

While few people need that speed today, the proliferation of video cameras and video streaming is growing at an amazing, if not alarming, speed.

AT&T has already been testing Cisco's new router as video puts a strain on the Internet.

"We've seen a 5,000 percent increase on our wireless data network, and on the wireline network, a 40 percent increase in data traffic in just one year," AT&T spokesperson John Britton said.

With that kind of growth, analysts say the Internet was facing severe congestion.

"It will help the Internet from bottlenecking in a lot of critical areas," technology analyst Rob Enderle said. "We were going to run out of bandwidth pretty aggressively before the middle part of this decade, this will help offset that."

However, consumers will not see faster downloads right away. The improvement is being made to the Internet's backbone; that could be a five-year process.

The weak link is the last mile between the Internet and the home where speed slows down.

"We're not going to feel it overnight, they're going to build it up over time as they feel their networks need it," IDC technology analyst Danielle Levitas said. "But yeah, if you look at the last mile issue, that has to happen in concert with this, otherwise, consumers aren't going to see enough of a difference."

Google is also trying to increase speed of the Internet. Its goal is to deliver data to homes 100 times faster than what is typical now. So, between the two Silicon Valley giants, expectations are high that the Internet of the near-future will be really fast.


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