Future Telecommunications: Gedankenexperiment - Part 8

Network of networks fostered by IoT. Credit: Thierry Lestable, presented at Globecom 2011

A local communication network, although we have seen it is feasible, does not support wide area communications. Can it scale? There is no reason why a local communication network cannot scale without changing its architecture.

If you want, we have examples in Nature of local communications networks that can scale without an increase in complexity that in turn would require a different architecture (that was the case for telecommunications where it would have been impossible to connect a phone to all other phones it might want to connect to by laying cables one per phone- this was also one of the reason, in addition to economics- that pushed telecommunications networks towards hierarchical architectures). In our body we have communications within the molecules and organelles in our cells, we have communications among nearby cells, normally chemically mediated, and we have communications among different systems, chemically and electrically mediated. Notice that the communications within a cell in our body is basically the same as the one happening in a bacteria cell. The higher structure of our body did not led to a different communication architecture in the cell.

Hence, we can say that a local communication architecture can be part of a broader communication ambient. Internet, at a logical level, is based on this principles. Internet was born by connecting independent “networks” each one having a different owner that did not have to negotiate its local architecture with a global one, as long as it conformed to some basic communications principles (the IP). It is the physical infrastructure upon which Internet “runs” that has a hierarchical structure…

We already have examples of physical infrastructures that interact dynamically on a peer to peer bases.

IoT, Internet of Things, comprises a broad range of “things” some of them lending to the creation of their own local network. And there are several ways to establish and support connectivity among IoT, each one might result in a local network of its own and yet it can become part of a wider network.

Stores can host these local networks for a variety of purposes, inventory, customer support, theft detection. Stores local networks can aggregate into department stores networks and into borough –vicinity- networks spanning a city. Municipalities are already deploying access networks that really can be seen as networks tout court. All of these are examples of aggregation of local networks that interface with one another covering a wider area. The co-presence of these networks create a wide area network.

What is interesting is that local communications networks are not just feasible, and their dyanamic aggregation is also happening today, although not with the objective of “replacing” the current network infrastructure but as a way to meet specific requirements.

This is really good, because it is not just demonstrating the feasibility of our gedankenexperiment, it is also showing a possible way to make it happen. There is no need for a “deus ex machina”, independent initiatives responding to different needs, over time end up in a communication fabric.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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