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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Cisco's New Router: Trouble For Hollywood


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Cisco's CRS-3 router made a bit of a splash when it was announced on March 9, but the power of this new device hasn't yet sunk in. Consider: The CRS-3, a network routing system, is able to stream every film ever made, from Hollywood to Bombay, in under four minutes. That's right — the whole universe of films digested in less time than it takes to boil an egg. That may sound like good news for consumers, but it could be the business equivalent of an earthquake for the likes of Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures.

Most people are familiar with routers, or desktop boxes used to provide connectivity between PCs, laptops and printers in a home or small office. These are tiny geckos compared with the T. rexes used by telcos such as Verizon and AT&T to distribute data among computer networks and provide Internet connectivity to millions of homes and wireless subscribers.

As it turns out, these megarouters sitting inside data centers of major telcos and cablecos are among the biggest bottlenecks of the Internet, because as bandwidth speed to end users has shot up in recent years, router technology has not kept up, resulting in traffic jams that can slow or freeze downloads.

Cisco's superrouter is expected to turn what is now the equivalent of a country road into an eight-lane superhighway for Internet data traffic, including 3-D video, university lectures and feature films such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. "Video is the big driver behind all this," says analyst Akshay Sharma of technology-research company Gartner Inc., noting that voice and texting will soon be overtaken by richer multimedia content and applications.

From Time
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