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Telco CTOs see Web traffic growth as key challenge

19 июня 2008

Chief technology officers of top U.S. phone companies say dealing with growing Internet traffic is a key challenge, as they work on preventing services like video downloading from bogging down the network.

The executives, who attended the NXTcomm telecommunications industry conference in Las Vegas this week, said the popularity of bandwidth-heavy services, including movie downloads and video chats, was contributing to exponential growth in online traffic.

Such growth has kept alive the debate on network neutrality, pitting Internet service providers such as phone and cable companies who want to be able to charge higher fees or to control traffic on their networks against those who oppose interference.

"There will always be a need for some sort of rational network management," Verizon Communications Inc CTO Mark Wegleitner told Reuters.

Wegleitner said the company has not yet had to block or control traffic like video streaming or online file sharing, but may eventually need to find a way to prevent congestion.

For now, Verizon is focusing on upgrading its network to enable faster Internet speeds. It announced on Wednesday that it will boost download speeds to up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) from a previous 30 Mbps for premium FiOS subscribers.

That premium service, previously only offered in some states such as New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, will be offered starting next week throughout the 16 states where FiOS is available.

Verizon will also boost the downloading speed of its mid-tier service to 20 Mbps from a previous 15, and that of its basic service to 10 Mbps from 5.

But Wegleitner said he did not expect capacity to ever grow to the extent that the problem of network neutrality would go away, a view shared by other CTOs.

"My personal view is that applications tend to expand to consume all available resources," he said. "We're going to see continued pressure on the network to grow and to meet application requirements."

John Donovan, the CTO of AT&T Inc, the top U.S. phone company by revenue, said he was seeing 60 percent growth in Internet traffic every year, and the company was focusing on improving the efficiency of its network by accurately predicting and working around Internet traffic data.

AT&T is also looking at how to work with content providers, as well as caching and storing data, to boost the efficiency and quality of delivery, he said.

"The long-term solution is for us to re-architect the network so that they're more efficient, and find new ways to route. When you look at a world with this kind of consumption, you need more precision," he said.

Qwest Communications International Inc, which until a few years had been touting a Wall Street-friendly policy of delivering "just in time bandwidth", or investing in only as much speed as necessary, has become more aggressive in boosting network capacity.

"What happens is that the traffic doubles every 15 months. That's been going on pretty much since the Internet started," said Qwest Chief Technology Officer Pieter Poll.

Poll also said some kind of management of Internet use would eventually become necessary.

"The doubling every 15 months should show you that you have to do traffic management at some point," he said.

He said there would be various options, such as setting up some kind of clearing house or agent that negotiates between the service providers and the content companies, and monetizing the network in a way that minimizes the burden on consumers.

"We absolutely support the concept of an open Internet. We would never block access to applications, unless we need to for some legal reason. We, however, reserve the right to manage our network," Poll said.

Regulators at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission are currently examining the issue of network neutrality after complaints from consumer groups that Comcast Corp unreasonably hindered file-sharing services.

Источник: Reuters

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