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Gigabit network economics and paradigm shifts (RFC1216) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000002030D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-11
Document File: 4 page(s) / 6K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

P. Richard: AUTHOR [+1]

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC1216: DOI


This memo proposes a new standard paradigm for the Internet Activities Board (IAB) standardization track. [STANDARDS-TRACK]

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 44% of the total text.

Network Working Group Poorer Richard Request for Comments: 1216 Almanac Institute Prof. Kynikos Miskatonic University 1 April 1991

Gigabit Network Economics and Paradigm Shifts

Status of this Memo

This memo proposes a new standard paradigm for the Internet Activities Board (IAB) standardization track. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

1. Introduction

The history of computer communication contains many examples of efforts to align the capabilities of processors to that of communication media. Packet switching is the classic case of a careful tradeoff between the costs of memory, processing, and communications bandwidth.

With all of the attention and publicity focused on gigabit networks, not much notice has been given to small and largely unfunded research efforts which are studying innovative approaches for dealing with technical issues within the constraints of economic science. This memo defines one such paradigm.

2. Contemporary Network Economics

Recent cost estimates predict a continuing decline in the cost for processing, memory, and communication. One recent projection put the decline for $/bit and $/MIP at 99% per decade and put the decline for $/bps at 90% per decade. Scalable parallel processor designs may accelerate the cost declines for CPU and memory, but no similar accelerated decline should be expected in the cost of communications. Such a decline would imply eventual declines in the cost of 56Kbps service used for voice, resulting in a negative rate of return for telecommunications carriers, an unlikely eventuality even if free- market forces are carried to their logical extreme.

Increases in processing power create additional demand for communications bandwidth, but do nothing to pay for it. While we will sell no paradigm before its time, the 9% difference, particularly after compounding is taken into account, will bankrupt the internet community unless a paradigm shift takes place.

Richard & Kynikos [Page 1]

RFC 1216 Gigabit Network Economics and Paradigm Shifts April 1991

3. The ULS Paradigm Shift

The ULS paradigm shift breaks the downward spiral by concentrating on end-to-end datagrams and virtual circuit services operating in the .01 uGbps region, namely Ultra Low Speed networking.


"The worlds best technological paradigm shifts are useless unless they (a) are economically viable, (b) have clear applicability, (c) are technically feasible."

--Milton John in "Paradigms Lost"

3.1 Economic Viability

Cost projections indicate that individual ULS circuits can be provided at a cost of <$.03/month due to the unusually high multiplexing that will be possible on Gbit links. The 10 THz bandwidth of existing optical fibers will be able to support on the order of 1 TUser, handling population growth, and even internet growth, for some time. Moreover, if $.03/month is a significant barrier to entry, substantial discounts appear to be economically feasible.

3.2 Clear Applicability

A fundamental principle of networking is th...