A Radical New Router

“But this shift is not without its problems. Unlike e-mail and
static Web pages, which can handle network hiccups, voice and video
deteriorate under transmission delays as short as a few
milliseconds. And therein lies the problem with traditional IP
packet routers: They can’t guarantee that a YouTube clip will
stream smoothly to a user’s computer. They treat the video packets
as loose data entities when they ought to treat them as flows.

“Consider a conventional router receiving two packets that are
part of the same video. The router looks at the first packet’s
destination address and consults a routing table. It then holds the
packet in a queue until it can be dispatched. When the router
receives the second packet, it repeats those same steps, not
“remembering” that it has just processed an earlier piece of the
same video. The addition of these small tasks may not look like
much, but they can quickly add up, making networks more costly and
less flexible.

“At this point you might be asking yourself, “But what’s the
problem, really, if I use things like Skype and YouTube without a
hitch?” In fact, you enjoy those services only because the Internet
has been grossly overprovisioned.”

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