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Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Monday, December 20, 2010

My top 10 predictions for Internet and R&E networks for 2011

I have decided to join the parade of prognosticators and seers who at this time of year make wildly, uneducated predictions for 2011.  So for no apparent reason or logic here are my 10 top predictions for 2011:

1.       1. Cisco enters the wireless arena

Cisco dominates about every aspect of Internet networking. The only obvious space they have not entered is the wireless broadband market. Given Cisco’s insatiable need for growth this seems to be a glaring omission.  Cisco engineers are developing some very clever stuff in the “carrier” Wifi market, long dominated by Bel Air networks (  With the advent of software SIMS and next generation of smart phones from Google, Apple and others I see Cisco making a major move in this market integrating 4G with Wifi, WhiteFi and mesh technology.  This will be a boon for R&E and national community networks like UCAN and allow them to deploy integrated national wireless services.

2.       2. Google deploys national wireless 5G network

I note that Google recently hired Milo Medin to head up their FTTH program. Most recently Milo was leading an initiative to deploy a free national wireless network.  But the program was scuppered when  FCC did not allocate the necessary spectrum. Google, Apple, Microsoft and many other high tech companies are fed up with the anti-competitive antics of the incumbent telcos and cableco.  So I predict that Google will expand its FTTH program to include some sort of national wireless network, perhaps in partnership with Lightsquared ( yes, maybe even Apple.  Apple is rumored to being bidding on Nortel’s LTE patents and technology. Lightsquared owns a lot of satellite spectrum that they want to repurpose into terrestrial wireless.  A partnership between R&E networks, especially UCAN and BTOP would make a lot of sense for Google to expand its footprint.

3.      3.  Commercial clouds for research take off

In 2011 XD (eXtreme Data) will get funded by the NSF.  XD is the successor to Teragrid ( and will integrate commercial clouds with campus HPC clusters.  Given the recent recommendations of the recent PCAST (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and technology) I predict we will see a big push away from large HPC systems and instead  focus on the computational needs of the large majority of researchers who have more modest computing requirements. Tools like Internet 2 CoManage and SURFconnexion will allow federated management and group identity for using commercial cloud resources.

4.      4.  IPv6 growth still anemic despite Armageddon of IPv4 address shortage

Despite all the predictions of doom and gloom and the imminent demise of availability of IPv4 addresses, take up of IPv6 will slow reaching maybe 10% of all traffic by the end of 2011. Those who already have large IPv4 address blocks will not be under any pressure, other than moral suasion to move to IPv6. Countries that have a severe shortage of IPv4 ( i.e. most of Asia) will probably move to carrier grade NATs – which is consistent with a philosophy on building national firewalls in any event.

5.      5.  Green IT makes some headway in Europe and Quebec

Despite continued record breaking temperatures around the world and compelling evidence that we are now starting up the blade of the hockey stick in terms of global warming, political support for adopting more aggressive solutions to reduce CO2 will not materialize.  The only exceptions may be the province of Quebec in Canada which has already committed $60m to Green IT and Europe’s 7th framework announcements    The first Green IT carbon offsets will be registered which will help IT executives and researchers understand the difference between energy efficiency and reducing carbon (Hint: the two are not the same)

6.       6. Major R&E data centers relocate to save on energy costs and added security

Several major R&E data facilities such those at CERN, universities in the UK, Boston etc decide to make the plunge to co-locate campus computing facilities at sites with low cost renewable energy. This will be driven by rising cost of electrical power and the threat, especially in the UK, of a looming shortage of electrical energy.

7.      7.  First 1000G wavelengths deployed

This is a no brainer as 1000G wavelengths are already working in the lab.  I predict a couple of companies will announce 1000G (Terabit) wavelength trial deployments.

8.      8.  Twitter  accelerates past Facebook

Who invented Twitter should be given the Nobel prize as far as I am concerned. Restricting users to a 140 characters is a stroke of genius.  Unfortunately the Internet has given the right to billions of people who have nothing to say, to say it anyway.  And it demonstrates the fallacy of the theorem that an infinite number of idiots, typing at an infinite number of keyboards will eventually produce a work of genius.  If you cant say it within 140 characters don’t say it at all.

9.      9.  Network Neutrality still stalled because of actions of incumbents

Although there is growing frustration with concentration of media and Internet power by both consumers and businesses, little will be accomplished in the regulatory or government policy sphere to limit their more egregious abuses of traffic shaping and deep packet inspection.  I predict the FCC current attempts at regulating network neutrality will be blocked by Congress of the US Supreme Court.  Europe, NZ, Singapore and Australia will be the exception where there is a strong belief in promoting competition.

10.  10.  R&E networks will evolve to become the National Public Internet

Given the sordid abuses of the incumbents, and their historical role in the creation of the Internet, R&E networks will play a greater role in defining and protecting an Internet for the rest of us.  The Internet 2/NLR partnership with UCAN and BTOP projects is a step in this direction.  Another good example is AARnet partnership with NBN.

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