In the history of communication networks, “general purpose” has been the exception. Most networks were created to support one particular application. One thinks of communication using simple signal fires (simple pre-arranged messages), the pony express (carry mail), the telegraph (telegrams), the telephone network (voice), mobile networks (voice on the go), radio (audio content), TV and cable TV networks (linear TV content).

The Internet Protocol networks are much rarer: now a general purpose network. So use of IP makes mobile and high-capacity fixed networks “general purpose” networks that are quite different from their legacy versions. 

Now, though, even IP networks might shift back towards a “lead application.”

 

ATIS has launched an “Evolution to Content Optimized Networks (eCON) Initiative,” a to create an evolutionary path from today’s IP-based routing network to a future network that leverages the increasingly important role of content.

We already have seen the growth of solutions to optimize content delivery and improve user experience, including edge-caching, end-to-end encryption and proxies.

In the future, further changes are necessary, ATIS believes, including moves to embrace content naming.

Basically, that means embracing content as a primitive, an approach that promises greater scalability, security and performance for users retrieving content over IP networks.

In other words, instead of network routing organized around endpoint locations, routing and network layer functions could be additionally optimized around specific content identifiers.

That is expected to make easier location-independent retrieval (so edge caching is more efficient), allow better load balancing and support multicast in a more native way.

And, oddly enough, recreate a network that is optimized for a lead app. Though retaining its general purpose character, public IP networks increasingly might be optimized to better support one lead app: content delivery.