New technology developed by researchers at Aalborg University, MIT and Caltech may increase Internet data speeds by up to 10 times, and play a role in future 5G mobile networks deployment.
The technology proposes smarter and more adaptable network nodes that could replace the way Internet works today – relying on the 40-year old TCP/IP protocol can be inefficient and less secure.
Researchers have come up with network coding, which is a way to make each node of a network smart enough to reroute and re-encode data packets as needed. By comparison, current nodes in TCP/IP networks only forward data packets as they are received to the next node, in the order they were received. Smarter nodes could also be more secure, preventing third parties from eavesdropping on data traffic.
“In experiments with our network coding of Internet traffic, equipment manufacturers experienced speeds that are five to 10 times faster than usual,” Aalborg professor Frank Fitzek said about a recent study during which a four-minute video was downloaded five times faster using such a network, and without interruptions. “And this technology can be used in satellite communication, mobile communication and regular internet communication from computers.”
Unlike in TCP/IP, where users need to receive all the data packets in the order they were sent, using smarter nodes can receive packets in any order for the data to be transmitted, whether it’s a website, video or song. In addition to significantly improving data transfers, the new protocol also has other beneficial side effects: when a packet is lost, transmission delays would not occur as they do in TCP/IP, and eavesdroppers will have a harder time listening in because data packets would travel randomly with the new technology in place.
“I think the technology will be integrated in most products because it has some crucial and necessary functions,” Fitzek said. “The only thing that can stop the development is patents. Previously, individual companies had a solid grip on patents for coding. But our approach is to make it as accessible as possible.”
More details about the project are available at the source links.