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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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Named Data Networking - how LTE networks will soon be extension of enterprise WiFi

[It amazes me how still many people think that the Internet network architecture is a variant of the telephone system.
Although the Internet was originally conceived as an “end-to-end” network, most traffic today on the Internet rarely goes end to end and instead is sourced locally from a content delivery network or cloud. With the deployment of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and content peering, most ISPs can offload 40-60% of their Internet traffic at the IXP. Some R&E networks have reported off loading up to 90% of their traffic through these types of arrangements. With the advent of clouds and ubiquitous wireless access soon most Internet traffic will be terminating locally, as opposed to end-to-end connections.

In recognition of that trend, several years ago, the famous Internet pioneer Van Jacobson developed the concept of what is now called “Named Data Networking (NDN)” – which in effect is attempting to re-architect the Internet and develop an open standard for content distribution. It is hoped that NDN will become the standard for content distribution and the Internet much like TCP/IP displaced many proprietary network protocols in its day such as DECnet, BITnet, etc. See below. I have also bogged about these developments and have also written a white paper on the subject. See my previous blog from yesterday (

Currently most mobile telcom operators are still trapped in the old mindset of building wireless networks that enable “end-to-end” telephone calls. But as the data tsunami overwhelms their networks they are now starting to develop new strategies. Many now are attempting to use Wifi offload to remove some of the large data volumes off their 3G/4G networks. But as the data volume grows, some organizations are realizing that the network will also have to evolve like the wireline Internet networks did towards an IXP, enterprise, content peering architecture i.e Named Data Networking.

Rather than WiFi being a poor cousin to the primary 3G/LTE network, instead the 3G/LTE network will be a back up to ubiquitous enterprise WiFi. An example of this type of strategic thinking is the recent LTE/Wifi project announced by SURFnet in partnership with KPN ( This is another reason why deployment of IXPs deep into the community is critical as they greatly enhance wireless performance.

Even large circuit-switched optical networks are moving in this direction. LHCONE is the quintessential example of large set of international optical networks to distribute data “end-to end” from CERN to computer databases located at universities around the world. But as researchers move to clouds and HPC clouds, the need for end-to-end circuits will largely disappear. Instead the researcher will move data within the cloud from storage to computation to visualization and then send the results wirelessly to their iPad or iPhone . This wont obviate the need for optical circuits because data will still need to be transferred from CERN to the cloud. Optical Internet Exchanges, on the other hand, like IXPs will be critical for transfer of data to and from the cloud. – BSA]

Named Data Networking
While the Internet has far exceeded expectations, it has also stretched initial assumptions, often creating tussles that challenge its underlying communication model. Users and applications operate in terms of content, making it increasingly limiting and difficult to conform to IP's requirement to communicate by discovering and specifying location. To carry the Internet into the future, a conceptually simple yet transformational architectural shift is required, from today's focus on where -- addresses and hosts -- to what -- the content that users and applications care about….
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