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The influence of lightwave technology on computer network architecture and protocols

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2 Author(s)
Green, P.E. ; IBM Res., Hawthorne, NY, USA ; Baratz, A.E.

The opportunities presented by lightwave technology for the implementation of new concepts are considered. The approach taken is to reexamine the layer model and to try to identify what could happen to it if the true potential of lightwave technology were exploited fully. A typical architectural model is described, and the three properties of fiber optic technology that are likely to have the most profound effect on that model are identified. They consist of bandwidth in an amount so copious that many previous assumptions no longer apply, error rates so low that they are limited only by the reliability and performance of the terminal electronics, and software, and broadcast connectivity, so that each station can hear all transmissions. It is suggested that the effect of lightwave technology, at least as applied to local and metropolitan area networks, will be to collapse the physical, data link, and network layers into one, essentially the media-access-control layer and its supporting electrical-to-optical interface.<>

Published in:

Optical Multiple Access Networks, 1990. Conference Digest. LEOS Summer Topical on

Date of Conference:

25-27 July 1990