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Is the data centre network ready for Facetime?

Nicky Choo | Aug. 6, 2010
There is a need for service providers to adopt a better network framework to increase bandwidth capacity and to reduce bottlenecks on the data centres traffic.

Many are optimistic that the iPhone 4 will again revolutionise the smart phone industry. Its most impressive feature, Facetime, presents a rich video conferencing capability that promises real time video and voice streaming to iPhone 4 users. Though the application today only uses wi-fi to communicate between iPhone 4 users, Apples CEO Steve Jobs is in talks with mobile operators to make this tool available for 3G and Wimax data connection.

It makes sense that the iPhone 4 is 802.11/n ready in order for Facetime to work seamlessly. It needs a stronger broadband connection speed that can supply 6 Mbps to 10 Mbps which is critically important especially for iPhone 4s high compressed video conferencing function. With Apple selling 1.7 million iPhone 4 units in the first three days of release, FaceTime users will potentially suck up valuable network bandwidth.

Smart phones with similar functions and capabilities like the iPhone 4 are coming into the market. Predominantly, most handsets are wi-fi-enabled which is a key factor to offload 3G or WiMax connections providing relief from the heavy data traffic. These smart phones access wi-fi hotspots to check e-mail, download data packets, Internet browsing and HDTV video streaming.  According to ABI research, by 2012, wi-fi-enabled smart phones supporting 802.11n design will be predominant and become a staple feature for succeeding handset models. However, the current 802.11g standard emits dicey video output and delivers slower bandwidth speeds which are not sufficient to support   rich content.  

In this, there is a need for service providers to adopt a better network framework to increase bandwidth capacity for similar apps and smart phones and to reduce bottlenecks on the data centres traffic.

In an Extreme Networks whitepaper on the overview 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet portfolio, the appetite for bandwidth from carriers, operators and service providers doubles every 12-18 months.  To date, most carriers are utilising 10 GBE ethernet switches as their current network backbones to compensate for the increase in bandwidth consumption.  As 10 GBE cabling is becoming a common appliance in carriers today, it is imminent that 40GBE will be the next standard for speed and network aggregation. Other than Facetime, there are other key factors for the increase in bandwidth consumption:

•    Increasing number of users accessing the Internet as the price of access falls

•    The profile of traffic has evolved from e-mail and Internet access to rich media content such as IPTV, VoIP, video conferencing etc.

•    Laptops and smart phones contribute to the increasing load on mobile broadband accessing rich content

•    Organisations now are more open to incorporate mobile computing and the use of wireless devices as part of their business strategy


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