Beyond BroadbandInternet2 focuses on the needs of the higher-education community, but the evolution of the commercial Internet is also a very important part of its mandate. The term broadband is commonly used to describe Internet connectivity faster than that of dial-up modems, typically data rates of 3001,000 kilobits per second for cable modems and phone-company provided digital subscriber lines (DSL). The Internet2 community is looking beyond these first steps in broadband deployment to anticipate advanced broadband, the next generation in networking.
Advanced broadband is based on communications services offering multi-megabit-per-second data flows in both directions, to and from a personal computer or other networked device. With always-on and always-available connectivity, whether at home, at work, or traveling, users will no longer think about connecting to the Internet; its applications and services will be continuously accessible. Its also a services-rich environment, supporting IP multicast, the next-generation Internet protocol called IPv6, network performance measurement, and advanced service monitoring.Commercial broadband services are deploying quickly, so we have a good start toward the advanced broadband future. The United States may have led the way in development of the Internet, but deployment of broadband has reached higher penetration levels in other countries. According to the International Telecommunications Union, the United States is not even in the top ten in per-capita deployment of broadband services. Within the United States, though, the pace is quickening, with regional and state-level efforts to leap beyond traditional broadband through community fiber projects. In California, for example, the One Gigabit or Bust Initiative is investigating the technical, policy, and financial challenges to bringing gigabit connectivity to all Californians by 2010. Several other states also have significant fiber projects, including initiatives in Utah and Illinois with notable government, industry, and education involvement.
We can be confident of the benefits of advanced broadband because its environment already exists today on Internet2 networks. Drawing on what we have learned, we believe the commercial Internet will provide comparable jumps in functionality and performance over the next few years. We can anticipate those changes by looking at Internet2 as a time machine that offers a glimpse of the Internet of the future.
Advanced Broadband in ActionThe best way to understand the potential of advanced broadband is to look closely at specific applications in education, large corporate environments, small and medium enterprises, and the home. What is already operational within the Internet2 community will someday be commonplace on the commercial Internet. Advanced video-streaming applications, including operation of remote scientific instruments, will roll out within the next five yearsperhaps run from TV-attached...