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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Who Can Bend Light for Cheaper Internet?

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A representation of international optical transmissions.

The new ARROW system from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory can keep Wide Area Networks working when fiber goes down, while reducing costs.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a system that can maintain network connections when optical fibers break by reconfiguring optical transmissions from damaged fibers to healthy ones.

The ARROW system plans for potential fiber cuts in advance using an online algorithm that accounts for real-time Internet traffic demands.

Simulations revealed that ARROW could carry up to 2.4 times more traffic without deploying new fibers, and while maintaining high network reliability.

MIT's Zhizhen Zhong said, "With ARROW, some failures can be eliminated or partially restored, and this changes the way we think about network management and traffic engineering, opening up opportunities for rethinking traffic engineering systems, risk assessment systems, and emerging applications, too."

The researchers are working with Facebook to deploy ARROW in real-world wide-area networks.

From MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
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