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Researchers get EU funding to solve jittery internet

Antony Savvas | Feb. 14, 2013
The RITE consortium is a three year project backed by £3.1 million

Slow and jerky video streamed over the internet is being tackled by leading researchers.

University of Aberdeen researchers are involved in a project that aims to significantly reduce online delay, or latency, without the need to invest in new and expensive connections.

The team are looking at re-writing the way computers talk to each other in order to work smarter, to help increase the speed of the internet.

Professor Gorry Fairhurst, an internet engineer at the University of Aberdeen, said: "It's a problem we all notice when using a program like Skype. If anyone else in the house is watching a video at the same time your video connection becomes jerky and often crashes."

"This affects gamers who want to play online in real time and companies doing stock trading - both end up buying special and expensive internet connections to make these work, but often it's not more bandwidth that's needed to go faster, it's less delay."

He added: "We think we can reduce this delay by making a set of small but important changes in the way computers and the network process the internet data."

The RITE consortium (Reducing Internet Transport Latency) is a three year project backed by 3.6 million (£3.1 million) from the European Commission's Framework 7 programme. The University of Aberdeen will receive 465,000 (£402,000) of the total.

Along with Aberdeen the consortium consists of Simula Research Labs (Norway), BT, Alcatel-Lucent BELL (Belgium), University of Oslo, Karlstad University (Sweden) and Institut Mines-Telecom (France).

RITE co-ordinator Andreas Petlund said: "Bandwidth is only about how many bits you can transfer per second, but speed is about how long it takes to complete a task. This depends on how long it takes for even a small message to get from A to B, and how many back-and-forth messages the protocols require even before data transfer can start.

"Then it can take a few more rounds of messages to get up to speed while the computers sense how much network capacity is currently available."

The project will explore mechanisms both in networks and in end-hosts to achieve best possible aggregate latency reduction.

Fairhurst said: "Our vision is that the new methods will be adopted by the industry, we have to change the current standards for the internet. This isn't something that companies like Microsoft and Apple will undertake lightly, but we expect they'll take up what we're doing because this has benefits for everyone."

 

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