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A Discussion With David Farber: Bandwidth, Cyber Security, and the Obsolescence of the Internet

By O'Reilly Radar

February 7, 2012

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Internet technology veteran David Farber projects that within a decade, computers will be outfitted with optical connections rather than pins for networking, and routers will be swamped by the sheer volume of transmitted data.

Farber says packet-switching protocols will become superannuated when routers mature to accommodate terabit-per-second rates, and the fundamentals of digital networking will need to be rethought because the speed of light is constant. Although the underlying protocols can be rearchitected to fit the hardware and applications' capabilities, he says a new generation of software engineers will likely be pressed to reach this goal.

Farber also notes that cybersecurity cannot be managed from a top-down perspective on the Internet, and a dramatic rethinking of security will therefore be necessary as part of the new network that will supplant the Internet.

Meanwhile, Farber rejects fiber to the home as the optimal solution for networking far-flung U.S. populations. Instead, he proposes that phone companies thread fiber to access points about 100 meters from homes, and rely on old copper for the rest, delivering adequate and affordable bandwidth. Farber also says the performance of fixed wireless Internet service providers could be improved with a combination of 4G, revisions to protocols, and other advancements.

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