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Surprising Science

Cisco’s New Router Precursor To Web 3.0

My soon-to-be seventy year old father called me around dinnertime on Saturday. He was having a problem adding some text to his website, he said, and wanted me to take a look at it. This is one of those rare times in our father-son relationship when he is willing to give up the position of authority and take direct instructions from his progeny. While I was fiddling with the HTML code to get the new text out of the footer of his site and into the body of the page where it belonged, he casually mentioned “I’m thinking about adding a video.” Which means that the announcement Cisco made last night about its new CRS-3 Carrier Routing system, a new generation of internet routers capable of transmitting data at three times the speed of its fastest available model, is getting here right on time.

Cisco made headlines today announcing a next generation router that will revolutionize the internet by increasing downloads to unheard of speeds.  The Cisco press release makes the following claims about the CRS-3 router:

It enables the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress to be downloaded in just over one second; every man, woman and child in China to make a video call, simultaneously; and every motion picture ever created to be streamed in less than four minutes.

Tech Ticker, Yahoo Finance

When my father told me he was contemplating adding a video feed to his website, I said “hey, that’s the latest thing. You’ve gotta have video these days if you want to keep people.” The enormity of his statement didn’t hit me until later, when I was taking a break from updating the template that controls the look and feel of my own personal blog – a seventy year old man who was born in what is now a barn back, when radio was the chief communication medium, was talking about adding streaming video to his website.

I watch more video on the web in one week than I used to watch on the web in twelve months just five years ago, and I am a reluctant video watcher. Streaming video on the web has become ubiquitous, the latest medium for everything from broadcast TV shows to the high-definition commercials that have begun to take the place of banner ads on websites. Phone carriers are already overloading networks with the increase in 3G phone usage.

Cisco’s new routers, with the capability of transforming the increasingly overloaded backbone of the World Wide Web, are nothing short of revolutionary. Indeed, this very website, a global forum based around video interviews with the world’s leading experts, would benefit greatly from an improvement in the speed and capacity of internet bandwidth.

At prices of $90,000 per unit, Simon Leopold of Morgan Keegan tells Bloomberg News he thinks any material impact on Cisco’s bottom line is two years out, which means that it is likely to be twelve to eighteen months before we see this technological breakthrough translate into real-time increases in data transfer speeds.

With this increased potential, where we go from here — what Web 3.0 will look like — is anybody’s guess. Whatever shape or form the next generation online world takes, I am sure my father will be there, uploading and downloading right along with the rest of us. 


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