Title: A Speed-of-Light Internet Service Provider

Abstract: A variety of network applications, including electronic commerce and games, are either enabled by or benefit greatly from low latency communications. Studies have shown, however, that over medium and long distances the time to send a packet from one city to another on the public Internet is typically more than three times larger than the lower bound implied by the speed of light in free space. Hence for applications like high-frequency trading, where the winner of a communications race receives all the benefits, special purpose networks have been deployed. For example, between New Jersey and Chicago a succession of networks has been deployed, first fiber-based and then microwave-based, with each network reducing latency by a fraction of a millisecond over the previous. This talk explores the possibility of using the same radio technology to build a network backbone spanning the 120 largest population centers in the United States. The design places radios on existing towers, using topographic maps to ensure line-of-sight connectivity between towers. The impact of weather on the network is evaluated using historical weather data. Our analysis suggests that it should be possible to achieve mean speeds of over 95% of the speed of light over medium and long distances at a transmission cost of under $1 per GB.

Joint work with Sangeetha A. J., Anthony Aquirre, Waqar Aqeel, Nadi Bozkurt, Bala Chandrasekaran, Brighten Godfrey, Greg Laughlin, Ankit Singla, and Muhammad Tirmazi.

Bio: Bruce Maggs received the S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985, 1986, and 1989, respectively. His advisor was Charles Leiserson. After spending one year as a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT, he worked as a Research Scientist at NEC Research Institute in Princeton from 1990 to 1993. In 1994, he moved to Carnegie Mellon, where he stayed until joining Duke University in 2009 as a Professor in the Department of Computer Science. While on a two-year leave-of-absence from Carnegie Mellon, Maggs was a founding employee of Akamai Technologies, serving as its first Vice President for Research and Development. In 2018 he was part of a large team that received the inaugural SIGCOMM Networking Systems Award for the Akamai CDN, and was named an ACM Fellow.