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The Internet in space: problems and solutions

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With the advent of direct broadcast satellites and inexpensive minidishes, satellite broadcasters are competing with cable television providers by delivering hundreds of channels of digital video services to millions of customers without a wired infrastructure. Many of these broadcasters also want to compete with Internet service providers by delivering high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses. If satellite services have their way, users will no longer have to wait to enjoy multimegabit Internet data connections until the telephone company provides them with fiber-optic cable. The paper considers how space-based Internet service must overcome a fundamental problem before it can realize its full potential. While it is possible to bounce Internet data packets off geosynchronous-Earth-orbit (GEO) communication satellites, the protocol that ensures that the packets will arrive safely (TCP/IP) also slows satellite-based traffic to a relative crawl. This is because in space TCP/IP must carry data over distances that are much longer than the protocols were designed for. This creates transmission delays that make it impractical to download the large files of data, including images and multimedia products, that many organizations need. However, researchers who are looking for solutions to this problem have come up with several promising proposals

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 2 )