February 26, 2001, 1:54 PM — SANTA CLARA, CALIF. -- A panel of industry dignitaries focused on issues facing the growth of broadband networks during a session here on Wednesday night.
Executives from AT&T, Broadcom, PMC-Sierra, JDS Uniphase, and Juniper Networks gave their views on broadband at a session entitled, "Broadband revolution: Shaping the future of the Internet," sponsored by the Churchill Club, a Silicon Valley, Calif.-based business and technology forum.
Among the issues raised included the spread of IP-based networking, optical networks, wireless, and applications that would spark a public demand for broadband networking access in the wake of an economic slowdown and a multitude of failures in the dot-com marketplace. Applications such as MP3 file-sharing, digital cameras, video, and "two-way" video will require greater amounts of bandwidth, panelists said.
Broadband networks are transitioning from voice-centric to data-centric applications, and IP will take a central role, said Robert Bailey, chairman, president, and CEO of chip maker PMC-Sierra.
"Yes, IP will be the lingua franca of the Internet, but how long will it take?" Bailey asked.
Hossein Eslambolchi, senior vice president of AT&T and interim president of Excite@Home's broadband network, concurred on the importance of IP and agreed that it will take time to evolve toward the protocol on a wider scale. The core of the broadband network will be IP and optical, Eslambolchi said.
Currently, however, ATM provides better QoS (quality of service) and reliability than IP, Eslambolchi said. "We don't get that on IP today."
Scott Kriens, chairman, president, and CEO of hardware maker Juniper Networks, said IP would provide a common mechanism for exchange of information.
Henry Nicholas III, president and CEO of Broadcom, said, "There's no question networks will evolve to IP."
"The great news is, there are ways to evolve to IP networks," Nicholas said.
Don Schifres, co-chairman and president of the Amplification and Transmission Group at JDS Uniphase, said fiber optics, and the great performance gains and lower costs it will yield, will happen during the next five to 20 years.
"Fiber optics and optical networking are just in the stage that [semiconductors were] in the early 1970s," Schifres said.
Over time, broadband users will adapt to many more applications than available today, including video and two-way video, Schifres said.
Optical switches are becoming available for boosting the deployment of optical networking, Schifres said. But at the desktop, "you still have to switch it back to electrical [connections] because PCs are not optical -- yet."