Surging Demand for Internet Bandwidth: Challenges and Opportunities

William Mong Distinguished Lecture by Professor Kien A. Hua
Dec 12, 2016

Professor Kien A. Hua, Pegasus Professor and Director of the Data Systems Lab at the University of Central Florida, U.S.A., gave a lecture on December 12, 2016 titled “Surging Demand for Internet Bandwidth:  Challenges and Opportunities”.

Multimedia computing and communications are core technologies for many important applications, including the Internet of Things (IoT), cyber-physical systems, intelligent transportation systems, social media, and entertainment, to name a few.  In particular, multimedia applications are known to be data intensive; as such, efficient data transport and delivery mechanisms to move multimedia content through networks such as the Internet are active areas of research.  In 2015, net neutrality rules were introduced throughout the world to ban Internet service providers from crafting deals to give preferential treatment, so called “Internet fast lanes,” to customers who could afford to pay more for the service.  While these rules protect free expression and innovation, they post a new set of challenges and opportunities in the future Internet.  The “net neutrality” controversy arises mainly because popularity of video streaming services has led to a surge in Internet traffic in recent years.   Cisco forecasts that video will make up 84% of Internet traffic by 2018.  In this talk, conventional wisdom in network design was re-examined and a new concept in network communications - traffic deduplication - with a Deduplication Overlay Network (DON) deployed along the East Coast of the U.S. was presented.  It showed that routing video traffic to create congestion is surprisingly an effective way to substantially reduce congestion in the network.

Besides video on demand, emerging Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications, projected to exceed over 28 billion connected devices such as cameras and sensors by the year 2020, pose another great challenge.  There is no doubt that IoT will generate more “big data” than ever.  While cloud computing has been a viable solution for processing and analyzing very large volumes of data, it is ineffective for IoT applications that deal with entirely different kinds of big data.  Cloud computing is applicable as long as the data set is relatively stable and already in the cloud data center.  IoT, however, deals with potentially billions of live data sources continuously feeding from all across the Internet in real time.  Another IoT challenge is due to device heterogeneity.  Great expertise is required to deal with multimodal data such as data streams, images, and videos.  Furthermore, achieving a computational model that allows applications to share an IoT infrastructure is another great challenge.  ThingStore, presented in this talk, is an IoT application development and deployment platform designed around the emerging edge computing technology to address the above challenges.

While an IoT environment fusing human and machine intelligence opens up a host of new opportunities, the human teams may be overwhelmed trying to keep up with massive amount of real-time information.  This calls for more effective communication and collaboration management tools to allow the human teams to deal with information overload in real-time decision making.  Tabletop, a multimedia conferencing system, is one such environment to support teamwork in an IoT-enabled workplace.  The team members can not only share and discuss multimedia information, but also cooperate on IoT devices as they collaborate.  A short video was presented to demonstrate this Tabletop system.