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Global Internet analysis: Australia possibly 'out of phase'
June 24, 2005
Scientists from The University of New England who have developed new ways of analysing and modelling Internet congestion around the world say Australia needs to address possible communication deficiencies that their models have revealed.
Dr Robert Baker, the leader of the UNE research team, said initial statistics from 37 monitoring sites around the world, including one in Australia (in Melbourne), indicated that Australia’s Internet connections were relatively inefficient in dealing with traffic from different time zones.
"We’re basically out of phase with global traffic," Dr Baker said. "We are an island nation, and 'the tyranny of distance' still applies. It’s something we as a country have to deal with if we don’t want to be disadvantaged."
The UNE researchers, working in collaboration with scientists at Stanford University in the United States, have been able to measure the amount of information lost at the monitoring sites during congestion at peak periods. They have developed a computer-graphic model (pictured here) that shows the changing levels of Internet congestion at the 37 sites as the earth revolves through a 24-hour period. Several of the sites, including those in Moscow and Kazakhstan, stand out dramatically in terms of congestion at certain times of day. Another method of analysis produces statistics on how successfully each site deals with traffic from different time zones; these statistics show the monitoring site in Australia doing as poorly as that in Kazakhstan.
"We’re reasonably well served within Australia," Dr Baker said, "but we have to do better in terms of global traffic."
"Some other island nations, such as Britain and Japan, have been able to improve their handling of international traffic over the four years we have been monitoring the Internet," he explained. "The roll-out of broadband connections is a vital issue for Australia, including the discrepancy between what we in this country call 'broadband' (1.5-2.5 MB bandwidth) and the 2.5-8 MB bandwidth in the United States."
He emphasised that communication delays across time zones of even a fraction of a second could have serious consequences, such as the potential for exploitation of such delays in international stock market transactions. "Our Stanford University collaborators are based at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre," he said, "where their research is focused on strategic defence. They need to move the largest possible amount of information in the shortest possible time."
Dr Baker’s UNE colleagues are Troy Mackay, Brett Carson and Dr Rajanathan Rajaratnam. Their work has been funded by a Discovery Grant from the Australian Research Council. They, together with their Stanford University collaborators, presented their Internet models, to great acclaim, at a Supercomputer Conference in Pittsburgh, USA, last year and the International Computational Science and Applications Conference in Singapore last month.
Australia’s second monitoring site, at UNE itself, began operating about a month ago, and will contribute local detail to the global picture the researchers are assembling. "We’re very interested to see how regional Australia fits into the picture," Dr Baker said.
Media contact: Dr Robert Baker, School of Human and Environmental Studies, UNE (02) 6773 2884 or Jim Scanlan, Public Relations, UNE (02) 6773 3049.
Posted by Jim Scanlan at June 24, 2005 11:52 AM