Sabtu, 29 Maret 2008

Saying we are reaching the acceleration point in the hockey-stick-shaped growth curve for wireless broadband network usage, Alcatel-Lucent on Monday introduced a new product that will give wireless network operators far greater visibility into -- and, more importantly, control over -- the traffic on their systems.

The question for many users is whether this marks the coming of "traffic shaping," i.e., the limiting of bandwidth to certain users of high-traffic applications, such as file-sharing, to the mobile and wireless world.

Battered by huge changes in the telecom carrier market it serves, Alcatel-Lucent in recent years has tried to harness the resources of the legendary Bell Labs, which it owns, and commercialize its products through an entrepreneurial arm known as Alcatel-Lucent Ventures. The Wireless Network Guardian 9900, as the new wireless data-management product is known, is the third product in the last year to emerge from this partnership.

"Theres a very important tipping point approaching" in the shift of data traffic from wireline to wireless networks, said Mike Schabel, general manager for the Network Guardian at Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, during a press conference on the new product. "We are seeing explosive growth of wireless broadband subscribers and of open-access trends -- every day theres a new behavior and new application coming onto the wireless network."

The expansion of new applications for mobile devices and networks is being driven in part by the open-access trends Schabel mentioned. Hoping to greatly expand the number of new applications available for its popular iPhone, last week Apple released the software development kit for the device to third-party developers. Devices based on the new Android mobile operating system, developed by Google and based on Mobile Linux, will hit the market in the next few months. And Verizon, the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, plans next week to introduce the first version of the specifications for new wireless devices designed to run on its "Any Device, Any App" plan, which is a data-only service.

In the wired world, Schabel points out, "a bit is a bit," but on wireless networks different kinds of data have far different impacts on the management and the performance of the overall system.

For example, a high-bandwidth peer-to-peer file-sharing application transferring 1 megabyte of data would take up 30 seconds of radio-frequency airtime, Schabel said. But 1 MB of data from a mobile e-mail device, which must continually check in with the server for new e-mails, could consume two hours of airtime.

Wireless operators "not only have to worry about the bandwidth but much more," remarked Schabel. "Every single application has a fundamental and very different impact as it runs over the network."

The Network Guardian comprises two devices: a detector installed in each network node, which collects and transmits information about data traffic and the impact it has on network performance, plus a central "aggregation box," residing in the network operations center, that stores and analyzes the information and allows administrators to act on it.

Its the "acting on it" bit that has some observers worried. In its press release on the new product, Alcatel-Lucent said the Network Guardian will "provide ... operators with the granularity and real-time alarms they need to effectively address network congestion and optimize the delivery of IP-based services." The system also includes a "behavioral algorithm" that analyzes "how each user affects the network in various ways," said Wim Sweldens, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, and "in real-time points out anomalous behavior."

The barring of "anomalous behavior," like file-sharing, has landed some network operators, particularly cable giant Comcast, in hot water lately with the FCC for their traffic shaping practices. Time will tell if the new Network Guardian marks the beginning of the traffic-shaping era for wireless carriers.

See original article on


0 komentar: