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Optical Networks Of Tomorrow

Scientists have taken a big step in the development of ultrahigh bandwidth IP-based optical networks capable of carrying voice, data, and video traffic.
Scientists have taken a big step in the development of ultrahigh bandwidth IP-based optical networks capable of carrying voice, data, and video traffic. A team of scientists transmitted the first high-definition television signal at 1.5 Gbps from the University of Washington in Seattle to the recent SuperComputing 2001 conference in Denver.

The signal traveled over Level 3 Communications Inc.'s fiber-optic network, using technology developed by Tektronix, the University of Washington, and the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute. Before the demonstration, the technology was tested on the Pacific Northwest Gigapop, the region's high-speed test bed for next-generation Internet applications, and on Internet2's backbone Abilene network.

Carrying the HDTV transmission all at once on an IP network is significant. Video needs to be transmitted all at once to preserve image quality, but IP typically breaks a transmission into little pieces, transmits the pieces independently, then reassembles them on the receiving end. Transmitting an HDTV signal in one piece requires massive amounts of data and bandwidth, which the experimental method provides.

The new method could be used to send a wide variety of applications that consume extremely large volumes of bandwidth, says Amy Philipson, director of streaming media at the University of Washington, including highly detailed scientific, medical, and defense-related images.