New technology could raise Net speed limit

Thanks to some brewing technology, the time it takes to download big files will be more like watching "Gone in 60 Seconds," and less like reading "Moby Dick."

So far, the movie industry has been spared the online piracy that is rampant in the music industry because few

people have 10 hours to freeload a flick. But a new project could make downloading a movie take seconds.

A team at the California Institute of Technology is developing a system called Fast TCP, which will make network traffic go Autobahn fast. The system will work with existing network infrastructure.

Conventional TCP is like driving when you can only see 10 meters ahead of you, project leader Steven Low told the New Scientist magazine. You have to drive slowly and ease up when something comes into sight.

By contrast, Fast TCP is like driving on the open road in the flatlands on the clearest of days. The system uses special software and hardware on the sending side to monitor network performance so packets can be sent at the optimal speed.

The Cal Tech team has been able to reach speeds of 8.6 Gbps using Fast TCP. No word on how long such a system could be used to download "The Matrix Reloaded," but both Microsoft and Disney are interested in the technology, the New Scientist said.

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