Post contributed by C. David Chaffee, Chaffee Fiber Optics
How appropriate to have Vint Cerf, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist and the "Father of the Internet" (sorry, Al Gore), kick off the 2010 Executive Forum at OFC/NFOEC this morning. Cerf lives in a world of interplanetary Internets ("Unfortunately, we haven't yet figured out how to stop the planets from revolving around the sun"), where he is notified remotely if his wine cellar gets above a certain temperature,and where terabit speeds down a fiber are everyday realities.
The 1-Gbps-to-the-home experiment that Google has announced has mainly been about "where the community is going to be located to this point," Cerf said. One town has agreed to change its name to "Google" if it gets the job while a second says it will distribute Google beer if it gets the honor, Vint told us.
Not surprisingly, Google's interest in building such a network is in how it will work. Most of the human interest to this point, and the interest from the Federal Communications Commission, has been for the folks who will be the beneficiaries of such a nice chunk of broadband. "Part of this is trying to find out what the implementation issues are," Vint said. "We are also interested in what the economics are going to look like." We would venture to say that Verizon, AT&T and most other carriers will also be keenly interested in those numbers.
"Its clear that the obvious thing to do is fiber-based," says Cerf about the one gig community. However, high speed radio waves may also play a role. "High speed radio working off fiber is a very attractive combination," he believes.
Regarding applications, Cerf said his hope is that "people will invent applications that we haven't thought of. If there is any lesson to be taken away from the Internet, it is that the users will have a better understanding than any vendor could possibly have." Now, there's a novel idea. After years of trying to have businesses anticipate how people will use bandwidth, why not let the people who use it themselves tell us.
As Charlie Kao, who founded fiber optics and who is being honored this week here at OFC/NFOEC has observed, "If you give people the bandwidth, they will find creative ways to use it." As with any idea that seems to naturally make sense, I have to wonder why we didn't do this years ago.
Ever the realist, Cerf said the 1 Gbps to the premise idea is not new, only new to America. You can actually get 1 Gbps in Tokyo for a reasonable cost and in some other places you can own your own dark fiber, he observed.
Along those lines, Cerf recognizes the problems with security over the Internet, and acknowledges that we are a long way to figuring it all out. He encourages users to constantly change their passwords. "Don't use reusable passwords," he says."Find methods to use dynamic passwords." Makes sense, but easier said than done.
Vint is also concerned about something he calls "Bit Drop." "How much of the software we use in the year 3000, possibly Windows 3000, will be able to go back and read documents in 2000?" he wondered. "How much software in 2015 will be able to read documents we created in 2000? It's a concern."
It is a concern. Yet somehow it suggests the importance of new interactive software that will not just dump older files it needs to read.
2010-03 March, Fiber optics, Information technology, OFC/NFOEC