2002 Annual

Thursday, 17 January 2002: 8:30 AM
Wide Area Networks and the Geosciences in the 2000s
James A. Schiavone, AT&T, Middletown, NJ
Technological advances in telecommunications are accelerating ever so rapidly with each passing year. This progress has the potential to transform the scientific and operational programs that monitor and analyze our planet by greatly enhancing the efficiency and flexibility of our access to environmental information. This paper provides a glimpse of what meteorologists, hydrologists, and oceanographers can expect to experience in the wide area networking (WAN) arena over the next five years or so. The focus is on three aspects of telecommunications trends: the dramatic expansion in bandwidth capacity, the evolution to more flexible and direct user control of their networks, and the proliferation of wireless data transmission.

Accessibility to continually expanding amounts of transport bandwidth will improve the timeliness and availability of real-time environmental data and permit us to more closely monitor the world around us. The end users of wide area networks will be afforded ever more control over how their network is configured, with point-and-click provisioning of high-capacity data circuits replacing circuit-ordering processes that often take months or more to complete today. And the fledgling field of wireless data transmission will extend in footprint and broaden in bandwidth capacity, expanding the operations flexibility and data types that are available in remote areas and for intensive field studies.

A brief tutorial on WAN technologies will also be presented, highlighting the different types of network topologies such as rings, meshes, and hybrids; network protocols such as SONET, IP, Frame Relay, ATM, and MPLS; and equipment classes such as optical transport systems, terabit routers, and switches, with a focus on those that are destined for upcoming deployment.

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